Study: Walgreens home infusion service may deliver services faster than an ER visit

PHOENIX — Patients with a rare, life-threatening genetic immune system disorder can receive treatment for sudden episodes more quickly and cost-effectively at home than if they go to the emergency room, according to a Walgreens Infusion Services study being presented Wednesday at the National Home Infusion Association Annual Conference and Exposition here.

“These results demonstrate Walgreens Infusion Services’ commitment to providing personalized patient care promptly and cost-effectively, even with complex diseases,” stated Steve Kennedy, national director of infusion pharmacy services for Walgreens Infusion Services. “Our experienced infusion nurses provide [hereditary angiodema] patients necessary treatment in the comfort of their own home, saving them time and the additional stress that may accompany an emergency room visit."

More than 92% of treatments in the study occurred within two hours, whereas the average emergency room stay lasts longer than two hours. Patients in the study received Kalbitor (ecallantide) injections to treat episodes, which can include rapid swelling of the hands, feet, face and other parts of the body, as well as severe pain.

The program study included 50 patients who received 249 Kalbitor treatments provided in the home by Walgreens Infusion Services nurses nationwide during a five-month period (October 2011 to Feburary 2012) as part of a therapy management program dedicated to improving quality of life for HAE patients. Walgreens Infusion Services is the only home infusion provider of Kalbitor treatment in the United States, according to the company.

Among the findings:

  • 65% of treatments occurred in less than one hour, 92% within two hours and 100% within four hours. The median length of stay in an ER in 2008 was 2.6 hours, and 65% of patients spent two hours or more — not including time to travel to the ER — with waiting time causing much of the delay, according to Walgreens research;

  • Patients’ insurance plans saved $648,147 over ER treatment, based on the average $2,603 cost of an ER visit for an HAE episode versus the average $150 cost for a home infusion nurse visit; and

  • Patients reported an average overall satisfaction score of 4.85-out-of-5.

In addition to the HAE program, Walgreens Infusion Services provides care for people with acute or chronic conditions, including bleeding disorders, advanced heart failure, immunoglobulin deficiencies, nutrition deficiencies and infections, among other care protocols.

HAE, also known as Quincke’s disease, affects about 10,000 people in the United States. Patients have a genetic deficiency that results in periodic episodes of swelling, discomfort and pain triggered by anything from dental procedures to stress, sickness or surgery. HAE also can cause swelling of the throat, which is fatal 30% to 50% of the time when the disease is undiagnosed or improperly managed.

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