The value of home infusion therapy market around the world is expected to rise by 118% from USD 13.0 billion in 2015 to USD28.3 billion by 2024. This means that more and more people will be able to have their treatments outside the hospital, and most importantly, in the comforts of their home.
When a disease or disorder doesn’t respond effectively to oral medications, infusion therapy can be prescribed to the patient. In essence, this therapy allows medicines to be delivered into the body through a catheter or needle. And while it’s normally an intravenous administration, infusion therapy can also refer to other non-oral methods of administrating the medicine such as into the muscles through a subcutaneous injection or into the spinal cord’s surrounding membranes as an epidural.
Infusion Therapy at Home
A few decades ago, patients undergoing infusion therapy had to be admitted to the hospital considering the special and meticulous procedures that need to be performed by healthcare professionals. But since the 1980s, home infusion therapy is now possible — thanks to the technological advances that enabled this method to be performed in various alternative locations like in the comforts of the patient’s home.
If given the option, there are many benefits to agree on home infusion versus getting the therapy as an inpatient care. For one, hospital-related expenses can be greatly reduced when the infusion is done at home considering the high rates of a hospital room these days especially if the patient does not have health insurance. This becomes even more beneficial for individuals who are in need of long-term infusion therapy.
Another reason to opt for home infusion is that the patients can enjoy more freedom to perform what they normally do as long as their conditions do not require them to stay in bed. In short, patients can maintain their normal lifestyle including enjoying their hobbies, going on errands and even go to work or school.
What is infusion therapy used for?
When one is diagnosed with a severe infection, and oral medicines are not a feasible option (such as when the patient is temporarily unconscious in the hospital), doctors can prescribe antibiotics and anti-infectives that can be introduced directly into the patient’s bloodstream. That’s infusion therapy at work, but this method can also be used for many other purposes including pain management and chemotherapy.
For patients with neuroimmunological disorders, immunoglobulin (IG) infusion therapy can be carried out directly into the veins or through subcutaneous injections. When it comes to home infusions, a 12-month study conducted by Nizar Souayah, et al., revealed that around 99% out of 420 patients show zero to mild reactions to doing home-based IVIG infusions.3
Chemotherapy by infusion is also used for oncology patients. Home infusion therapy can be carried out especially for those who just require weekly or monthly sessions. There are also accredited facilities that a patient can visit to get professional care from a trained infusion therapy provider. An infusion therapy can last from one to several hours and most patients can move around freely especially when their infusion pump comes with wheels.
Infusion therapy is also used to deliver inotropes to weaken (negative inotropes) or strengthen (positive inotropes) contractions of targeted muscles. These medicines are commonly used to alter the force of the heartbeat especially for those with heart problems.
Regarding nutritional support, the infusion method is essential to patients requiring peripheral parenteral nutrition (PPN) or total parenteral nutrition (TPN). These patients cannot get their nutrition from any other sources (especially in the case of TPN), and thus, the necessary nutrients have to administer intravenously. The infusion therapy is also applicable for patients who receive their nutrition directly into their stomach via a tube. Known as enteral nutrition patients, the infusion can help them get back to eating solid foods as soon as possible.
What conditions require infusion therapy?
Infusion therapy is applicable to a variety of conditions both acute and chronic.
Cancer. Due to the complexity of the condition and the strength of specialized cancer drugs, chemotherapy through infusion should be administered by a trained infusion therapy provider such as a specialty pharmacy. There are stringent chemotherapy safety measures that must be observed. The doctor will also have to closely monitor the treatment plan and progress. Furthermore, cancer treatments typically differ from one person to another. Fortunately, infusion therapy allows the healthcare professional to give a combination of anti-cancer medicines to create a treatment which will best suit the patient’s unique condition.
Congestive Heart Failure. This condition happens when the ability of the heart to pump blood is weak due to hypertension, diabetes, a heart attack, irregular rhythms, valve problems or coronary artery disease, among other reasons. An individual with CHF has several treatment options including inotropic infusion therapy.
Gastrointestinal disorders or diseases that cause nutrition-related complications. An example is Crohn’s disease which comes with a variety of painful symptoms including abdominal pain. While there’s no known cure for Crohn’s disease yet, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines are available for infusion therapy to heal damages on the gastrointestinal tract and obtain relief from unpleasant symptoms. In addition, infusion is also useful for patients who need nutritional assistance through parenteral or enteral nutrition therapy.
Other conditions that can be treated with infusion therapy include:
- Infections immune to oral antibiotics
- Immune deficiencies and disorders
- Hormone deficiencies
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Urinary tract infections