Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and RWJBarnabas Health have partnered with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) to launch a collaborative pilot program which provides home infusion cancer treatments for eligible patients. The Horizon Home Infusion Pilot Program, which first launched in September 2020, delivers oncology care to patients in the comfort of their own home with the goal of preventing disruption of chemotherapy during the coronavirus pandemic and limiting exposure to hospital settings.
The presence of COVID-19 has caused many people to fear venturing out for vital medical services like cancer treatment, resulting in an increased emphasis on telehealth and home care. Home infusion offers many potential benefits for patients, including the ability to stay in a safe and protected environment without having to travel or risk exposure to infectious disease, one-on-one care and close monitoring by the home health care provider throughout the entire infusion period, and the convenience of scheduling treatments around their personal schedule. The pilot program, which currently treats patients with varied types of cancer , also leverages the use of telemedicine and is expected to achieve similar or improved cost impact while enhancing overall patient experience.
“As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, the patient is always at the center of everything we do. We take tremendous pride in ensuring our patients come first and are committed to providing the highest level of care coupled with excellent patient experience and satisfaction,” notes Rutgers Cancer Institute Director Steven K. Libutti, MD, FACS, who is also the senior vice president of oncology services at RWJBarnabas Health. “Offering the opportunity to transition eligible patients from infusion centers to home-based infusion of chemotherapy for the first time in New Jersey speaks to our mission of providing the most compassionate world-class cancer care and is what we strive to do with this pilot program.”
Eligibility for participation in the pilot is based on chemotherapy regimen and level of safety. The patient’s infusion regimens are then assessed, the most appropriate infusion system and medications are selected, and care is coordinated by home health aides and oncology trained infusion nurses.
“Medical professionals have been tasked with meeting the ongoing needs of cancer patients while navigating the pandemic, this includes safely continuing the treatment of our patients,” said Michael P. Kane, RPh, BCOP, executive director of Oncology Pharmacy Services at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. “There are many advantages to receiving care in the home, and the pilot program is helping us find the appropriate balance of potential treatments to be administered in an alternative home setting with the potential of becoming an option for patients even after the pandemic is over.”
“Just as the implementation of telemedicine has changed how cancer care is delivered, through this innovative pilot program, we know that cancer treatment can be delivered safely, effectively, and less expensively at home,” notes Andrew M. Evens, DO, MSc, associate director for Clinical Services at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and medical director of the Oncology Service Line at RWJBarnabas Health. “The measures we have taken, and will continue to take, at the Rutgers Cancer Institute together with RWJBarnabas Health to provide cancer care during the pandemic have made our health care system stronger and will make cancer care better for patients.”
“While cancer patients were not initially part of Horizon’s Home Infusion program, it became clear during the pandemic that our members were putting off life-saving treatments and therapies, so we looked for innovative partners to expand at-home treatment into oncology,” said Saira A. Jan, M.S., Pharm.D., vice president & chief pharmacy officer for Horizon BCBSNJ. “By partnering with the Rutgers Cancer Institute and RWJBarnabas Health, providers and payers are piloting new ways to make the cancer care experience safe, simpler, and more convenient for the patient,” Jan said.
“The pandemic challenged Horizon to close gaps in care that were emerging in real time and required creative solutions, especially for members who could not travel to receive their oncology treatments,” said Allen J. Karp, executive vice president for Healthcare and Transformation Management at Horizon BCBSNJ. “Transforming health care means collaborating with like-minded partners to develop solutions that improve outcomes and the patient experience, and this program reflects that kind of shared vision for care innovation.”
Throughout the program, clinical outcomes, safety parameters, time-to- care delivery, patient/ nursing satisfaction and physician satisfaction are measured, which will help to establish a clinically effective program in the future as an option for eligible patients beyond the pandemic.
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