How Specialty Infusions Can Best be Provided by Community Oncology

By Jenny Li, Clinical Oncology Pharmacist, and Camilo Rodriguez, Director of Pharmacy Operations, American Oncology Network

At American Oncology Network (AON), we take pride in providing high-quality care to cancer patients right in their own community. As an extension of that care, we offer specialty infusions throughout our clinics across the country.

Specialty infusions are not associated with a cancer diagnosis and are often used to treat a wide range of illnesses including asthma, genetic and skin disorders, rheumatoid diseases such as arthritis, and Crohn’s disease and other gastrointestinal problems.

Receiving these infusions at one of our practices will make for a convenient, cost-effective experience for oncology and non-oncology patients while they’re being treated by nurses and physicians based right in their own community.

A One-Stop Shop for all Patients

Because the infrastructure is already in place, there are many benefits to receiving specialty infusions at our practices as opposed to a hospital or other outpatient setting.

One important distinction is that the biologic drugs that make up specialty infusions are often similar in nature to the oncology medications we prescribe and administer at AON. Consequently, our staff is already familiar with the procurement processes for these drugs, as well as the pertinent administration preparations.

Furthermore, if a patient receiving a specialty infusion starts experiencing side effects—especially when they mirror those that accompany oncology medications—our staff has the expertise and equipment to begin immediate treatment. And by receiving these treatments in a community setting, patients won’t be hit with the extra facility fees they would have to pay at a hospital. This helps ease the financial burden and enrich a patient’s physical and mental health.

For oncology patients who also need treatment for non-oncology disorders, providing specialty infusions lets us serve as a one-stop shop where they can receive comprehensive care in one convenient, familiar location. Rather than going to an infusion center or hospital to receive treatment from staff they’re not familiar with, our patients will see the AON physicians and nurses with whom they’ve already built a trusting relationship.

The Enhanced Benefits of a Network

Joining a national network such as AON offers a whole host of benefits for independent community-based oncology practices that wish to also provide specialty infusions to their patients.

AON has contracting power that gives our practices access to a wide formulary of non-oncology medications that may not be available to smaller private practices.

Some independent practices may not have the time or manpower to research and investigate the specifics regarding specialty infusions. AON manages all that with standardized education and training, as well as a reference library our clinicians can access at any time to learn more about a medication. That includes such important information as preparation instructions and monitoring parameters under the Food and Drug Administration’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) program. REMS is a drug safety program required by the FDA for certain drugs to help ensure the benefits outweigh the risks.

Ultimately, supporting our practice partners in offering specialty infusions is another way AON provides top-shelf service to our patients right in their own backyard—which is precisely what community-based care is all about.