NHIA News

NHIA 2023 Draws Record Attendance, Focuses on Future of Health Care and Health Equity

National Harbor, MD (April 6, 2023)—Last week concluded the 2023 National Home Infusion Association (NHIA) Annual Conference, which brings together nearly 1,500 home and alternate site infusion professionals for four days of networking, education, and expo. This year’s event saw significant growth in attendance over prior years and the expo featured more than 125 companies displaying the latest products and services supporting the industry.

NHIA 2023 speakers and poster authors shared a variety of perspectives on improving health care models and health equity. Keynote speaker Sachin H. Jain, President and CEO of SCAN Group and Health Plan, encouraged more rapid change including the reduction of administrative burden and adoption of post-acute and non-acute models of care. “We are realizing that acute care isn’t always the best setting and that there are new ways to think about health care,” he continues.

The qualities required for success, according to him, are the right team-based model, right supervision infrastructure, and seamless inter-professional collaboration. We need to rethink who does what and in what situations, particularly to empower pharmacists to do more.

“Pharmacists are one of the most underutilized disciplines in health care,” says Jain, with arcane laws and regulations holding back their impact. “They play an integral role in managing disease and keeping patients out of the acute care setting,” and can do much more to help manage the burden of chronic disease than they are currently empowered to do. This has an additional effect of addressing shortages of health care workers.

The home infusion delivery model is also being shaped by developments in the overall health care landscape. During the Executive Preconference seminar, NHIA President and CEO Connie Sullivan identified the Top 5 Trends of the past year impacting the future of the infusion industry, including:

  • Growth of pharmacy-owned infusion suites built to expand access to complex specialty therapies
  • Health system expansion into home infusion with the help of new entities that offer administrative and clinical support
  • Growth of specialty infusions, driven by site of care optimization programs
  • Workforce challenges marked by the inability to hire pharmacy technicians and nurses
  • Continuing margin pressures exacerbated by supply chain challenges and inflationary cost increases

Education on New Standards for Sterile Compounding

Recent changes to USP General Chapter <797> standards for sterile compounding, which are due for implementation this fall, were a key focus of NHIA’s Sterile Compounding Clinic. Selma Mitchie from USP explained the patient safety rationale behind the most recent standards updates and there were several opportunities throughout the conference to connect with expert panels to better understand the details required for implementation.

NHIA also announced its upcoming Sterile Compounding Advanced Certification Training (ACT), written by industry expert Abby Roth and reviewed by the NHIA Sterile Compounding Committee. The program, which will be available via NHIA University in the coming months, will be the definitive preparation course for USP <797> designated persons and standards compliance as well as prepare pharmacists and technicians for sterile compounding certification exams.

Prioritizing Health Equity

Inequities in how people access and receive health care could cost the health care system $1 trillion by 2040, according to Cristina Ritchey from Optum Infusion Pharmacy. Models that address inequities can go a long way toward improving health care delivery, outcomes, and population health, said Ritchey, setting the stage for several sessions dedicated to health equity.

When providers use inclusive language, transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) individuals report an overall more positive experience, are more engaged in their care, and see improvement in mood disorder and a 50% decrease in suicidality, says Alex Mills, co-director of the Center for Gender and Sexual Minority Health at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy/Medical Center. According to Mills, 40% of TGD have attempted suicide. Many LGBTQ individuals begin to overcome depression when they embrace their sexual orientation or gender identify (SOGI)—supporting them with a gender affirming environment is literally lifesaving, he says.

Keynote speaker Erika McMullen says that providing culturally responsive care can address inequities as well as consider the unique needs of each patient. The key to culturally responsive care is asking, “How can I respond in this moment in a way that seeks to understand, demonstrates genuine interest and compassion, and values the patient’s culture?”

Recognizing Product and Research Innovation

NHIA presented its inaugural Innovation Award to Gasgon Medical for AirVault, a novel closed-system air trap that safely, proactively removes air in line, helping clinicians and patients avoid alarms, maintenance, and delays in care. The award recognizes a game-changing infusion industry product or service. A panel of NHIA member-expert clinicians evaluated exhibitor products and services introduced within the last 2 years for their ability to improve quality and safety, boost efficiency, or reduce administrative burden for providers.

The National Home Infusion Foundation recognized outstanding research among more than 30 abstracts presented at this year’s conference. Kassie Klasen, PharmD from M Health Fairview was selected as the winner of the NHIF Outstanding Abstract Achievement Award for her poster, “COVID Sequelae: Evaluation of the Effect of Treatment on Healthcare Utilization and Health Status in the Months Following COVID-19 Infection”. The winning abstract, which includes $1,000 grant and the opportunity to publish a full manuscript in Infusion Journal, must be relevant to a current challenge, issue, or question facing the infusion industry; employ an effective study design/methodology to achieve results; and have the ability for expansion into a larger study. Jennifer Zhao, a PharmD candidate who interned at Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, won the honorary mention for “Development of Productivity Standards of Ambulatory Infusion Suite Nurses within a Multi-Entity Health System“.

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