An image of someone getting an infusion.
Understanding the benefits of closed-door pharmacies & the tools to manage them
by Richard van der Lek

What is an infusion pharmacy? First, we need to understand the types of infusion pharmacies. There are many factors to look at when stepping into the closed-door pharmacy space.

Home vs. Specialty Infusion

Home Infusion pharmacies typically have clean rooms and provide lower-cost therapies such as: antibiotic/anti-infective, hydration, chemo, pain management and even parenteral nutrition, to name a few. Typically, these pharmacies are high-volume and low-touch. These patients can be in treatment for the long term, but more typically they are short-term patients to correct a particular acute condition.

Specialty infusion pharmacies may or may not have a clean room and provide high-cost therapies such as immune globulin, hemophilia, enzyme deficiencies and hereditary angioedema, to name a few. Specialty infusion pharmacies are typically low volume and high touch due to patient needs and/or education. These patients are usually long-term, rare disease patients with chronic conditions.

Benefits of Infusion Pharmacy

Patients today (especially after COVID-19 and the requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding hospitals), have an increased need for these type of closed-door pharmacies. Patients don’t want to—or are unable to—travel to a hospital for infusions multiple times a week. Hospitals also don’t always have room to accommodate patients for hour-plus infusions. Closed-door pharmacies will typically offer personalized care for their patients and sometimes employ staff with similar conditions. These employees, with their firsthand knowledge (especially in the specialty infusion space), help patients understand their condition and give them a sense of comfort knowing they have a company taking care of them that “has been there.”

Both of these types of pharmacies provide medications that can be shipped to the patient’s home, to a doctor’s office or to an ambulatory infusion center (AIC) that can be attached to the pharmacy or a stand-alone center. This gives patients the opportunity to have nurses who can teach the patient how to do an infusion or injection without the need for nursing services.    

Let’s break down some other benefits that an infusion pharmacy can provide:

  • Flexible scheduling: Infusion therapy can be scheduled to accommodate patients' lifestyles and preferences, offering flexibility.
  • Personalized treatment plans: Infusion pharmacies work closely with health care providers to create personalized treatment plans, ensuring that patients receive the five rights of dispensing along with personal care.
  • Increased patient adherence: The patient and family have more ways to meet their needs in care.  In-home care significantly helps mobility and other patients without immediate accommodations to travel.
  • Reduced treatment interruptions: Offering at-home infusion options allows patients to experience fewer disruptions to their treatment, which can contribute to better overall adherence.
  • Reduced health care costs: Home-based infusion therapy can lead to cost savings by minimizing hospital stays and associated expenses.
  • Resource optimization: Infusion pharmacies may help optimize health care resources by shifting appropriate care to outpatient settings.
Software Selection

There are many benefits to receiving care outside of the hospital setting that provide many benefits directly to patients. With this consideration in mind, there are unique needs pharmacies should consider in software selection. Will your software not only dispense but manage the patient clinically, bill the claims for the patient and handle everything in between?

If you are trying to navigate software to meet these needs, there are several options out there. You need to assure that you have a software that can support the unique needs. Your system will need to be an inclusive software that allows for complete patient care from the pharmacy to the home or durable medical equipment (HME/DME) needs and analytics to manage your patients.

Let’s look at some of the things that need to be reviewed when looking at software; including whether the system can:

  • Bill both pharmacy claims (such as NCPDP and D.0.) and medical claims (837)?
  • Manage prescriptions from new to refills
  • Clinically manage and document on patients’ charts through assessments, care plans, and documents sent and received to the pharmacy
  • Manage accounts receivable effectively
  • Manage you inventory all the way to the lot number and serial number; serial numbers are a new Drug Supply Chain Security Act requirement to maintain supply chain requirements
  • Be a one-stop shop for patients with HME/DME and infusion pharmacy.

Ask yourself: Will you work for your software or will the software work for you? Is the software configurable to meet the workflow requirements for your specific pharmacy? Is your pharmacy a collaborative partner
with your software company that allows you to present needs for enhancements?

Richard van der Lek is the vice president of applications for Universal Software Solutions and is serves on the National Home Infusion Association (NHIA) Membership Advisory Board. He has been in the infusion industry for approximately 25 years and came to Universal Software Solutions from a Fortune 500 specialty infusion pharmacy. Visit, or visit them at Medtrade at Booth No. 1129 or at the NHIA annual conference at Booth No. 314.