Home infusion therapy is a form of medical treatment where patients receive medications, nutrients, or therapeutic agents intravenously in their homes rather than in a medical facility. Infusion treatment is necessary for patients whose conditions cannot be satisfactorily treated by oral medications or simple injections. Specially trained infusion nurses usually administer home infusion therapy, but caregivers and patients themselves are sometimes allowed to provide treatments after training by a medical professional. Patients often tolerate therapy at home better than in-patient treatments in medical centers, and some recipients are able to continue normal lives while still participating in a treatment program. Home infusion therapy is generally less expensive than in-patient medical center infusions for both patients and insurance companies.
Candidates for home infusion therapy include patients needing intravenous treatment for cancer, malnutrition, gastrointestinal diseases, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), persistent infections, dehydration, bone marrow inflammation, heart disease, hemophilia, and pain management. Home infusion treatment teams normally consist of a prescribing physician, a trained infusion nurse from a state-licensed infusion pharmacy or home nursing agency, and support medical and administrative personnel. Medications, infusion pumps, and associated supplies are provided by the infusion pharmacy or a pharmacy partner of the nursing organization. Besides administering infusions, home-visiting nurses also typically educate patients and caregivers about the nature of the illnesses being treated; monitor all facets of the infusion process; and train caregivers and patients in self-administration of medications when possible.
Before the introduction of home infusion therapy in 1980, patients needing infusion therapy had to enter hospitals or other medical facilities as in-patients and remain there for the duration of their treatments. This practice was not only extremely costly for patients requiring long-term therapy — it also prevented them from working and leading normal, active lives. As pressures mounted on health care organizations to contain health care costs and as the technology of medication-delivery systems advanced, the health care industry introduced the new strategy of out-patient, in-home infusion of medications. Since then, home infusion therapy has proven to be a safe and effective alternative to in-patient treatment for numerous serious diseases. Some medical professionals now consider it the preferred method of treatment.
Many insurance companies provide some level of coverage for home infusion therapy. The degree varies, however, from insurer to insurer. Under defined sets of specific conditions, some insurance carriers even provide total coverage. Individuals covered by Medicare insurance alone are eligible for only limited coverage.