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5 Tips to become a preferred referral partner for specialty pharmacy

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Specialty pharmacies are experiencing booming growth in the home care infusion service market. This trend has been predicted for several years – driven by patient preferences, cost savings measures and readmission rate reduction targets. But like many other home-based therapies, this steady growth accelerated at lightning speed during the initial stay-at-home orders in 2020, with the market experiencing a growth rate of 55.5% in 2020.

The home infusion market is projected to maintain a compound annual growth rate of 7.5% until at least 2028.

The catch? While this may seem like great news for specialty pharmacies, it poses a significant threat for many – due to the critical nursing shortage facing the home care industry.

Subcontracting opportunity for nursing agencies

What does this mean for nursing agencies?

For nursing agencies with the staff, skills and ability to absorb this flourishing demand – sustained growth in the home infusion offers a significant opportunity. Nursing agencies can get their foot firmly into the door of the home infusion industry by becoming preferred referral partners for specialty pharmacies.

And for agencies that can manage and fulfill this demand with efficiency, visibility and competency? It could mean a lasting boost to your business or even an opportunity to be acquired profitably by a specialty pharmacy company, like AlayaCare customer Option Care’s October 2021 acquisition of Infinity Infusion Nursing.

Curious how you can position your nursing agency to accept more referrals at better profit margins? Drawing on AlayaCare’s experience as a software provider to some of the industry’s leading specialty pharmacies, our free guide offers actionable steps subcontractors can take to improve their position in becoming a subcontractor for these coveted offers.

We spoke to AlayaCare home infusion experts Director of Infusion Sales Sean Hill and Senior Solutions Engineer Kaila Raimondo to learn more about what insights nursing agencies can expect to find in the guide.

1. Leverage Technology to Connect Better and Discover New Efficiencies

Better technology doesn’t just lead to better clinical outcomes – it can also lead to more referrals.

While many nursing agencies are using technology to manage their businesses, Hill notes, “We see many nursing agencies using the Google Suite, Sharepoint or Excel to manage their operations. This combination of solutions allows agencies to create their own workflows, but it’s not specific to the unique needs of home infusion.”

In our guide, you’ll discover the most critical features organizations should expect from a home infusion technology partner – and how it can help your agency spend more time with clients and less on administration.

At Tri-State Infusion Nursing, Agency Owner Sharon Mitchell shares, “With AlayaCare, we’re able to create a template that the nurses can document on. When we print it out and fax it over to the specialty pharmacy, it looks exactly as they would expect it to be.

2. Build an Efficient Referral Program

When it comes to receiving and responding to referrals from specialty pharmacies, time is of the essence. “Because of the urgency, specialty pharmacies often send referrals out to multiple agencies at once. Being able to respond 20 – 30 minutes faster than your competitor does make a difference,” says Raimondo. “And it’s not just about being able to confirm your agency can cover the case but about knowing the details.

Agencies that can respond to referrals with comprehensive details, i.e. Yes, we can take it. We’ve assigned Sandra, who is accredited to dispense this drug. She will visit the client on Wednesday at 3:30 pm? They get more referrals than agencies that simply confirm they have capacity.

Learn more about what scheduling features can help your agency respond comprehensively and quickly to urgent referral requests. In our free home infusion guide, you’ll also see what systems you need in place to respond faster to referral offers.

3. Leverage Real-Time Visibility to Help Improve Client Outcomes

“Agencies need to know how they can focus their efforts to ensure they receive the most referrals at the best rates from pharmacies so they can build relationships efficiently,” says Raimondo.

And the need for visibility goes much deeper than profitability. “Nursing agency leaders on AlayaCare use reporting to strategically hire nurses in certain areas to meet demand or adjust their pay rates to be competitive in the marketplace,” shares Hill.

Software with a robust reporting suite is essential for nursing agencies looking to grow their operations through referrals. Just ask Ana Carolina Sachs, AlayaCare customer and Director of Nursing at Professional Home Infusion. She shares, “I can immediately see any reactions they have, report it to the pharmacy, bill immediately, free up the nurses so much faster. As I move along with this transition, it’s evident that this format is an amazing thing.”

In our home infusion guide, you’ll discover all the real-time information you need to boost referral satisfaction and how you can pick a platform that gives you access to them.

4. Broaden Nursing Skillsets

In this section, agencies will learn more about the skill competency and geographic mix they need to maximize their referral opportunities. “With a diversified portfolio of nurses, you’ll never have to turn down a referral that’s coming in because they need a specific type of drug-infused, a certain pump type or a specific access point. A diverse range of nurses and skill sets will allow you to accept those referrals,” notes Hill.

“Soft skills are a frequently overlooked piece of the puzzle,” says Raimondo, “Being able to track nurse and patient preferences to better match them, building long-lasting relationships between those individuals is very important for continuity.”

5. Tailor Your Marketing Efforts

While boosting efficiency and capacity via better technology is the most significant piece of the referral puzzle, nursing agencies shouldn’t overlook the relationship aspect. In this section, you’ll uncover our advice for how organizations can build their network of specialty pharmacy contacts through trade show marketing.

While event marketing can be expensive, Hill emphasizes, “It’s an important way to establish your credibility, your investment in the industry and your status in the association. It gives specialty pharmacy companies peace of mind that you’re reputable and follow the latest accreditation updates and industry best practices.”

Feeling a little shy or rusty after a few years of virtual conferences? Reach out to your software vendor to facilitate an introduction! If you’re an AlayaCare customer looking to network with specialty pharmacy organizations at an upcoming event, don’t hesitate to ask your customer success manager or account executive for an introduction.

Get the guide and start building stronger relationships today

Although the staggering growth in the home infusion industry is a huge business opportunity for nursing agencies, “Most owners of nursing organizations feel like they don’t have time to implement significant changes,” says Raimondo. “But there is an extreme nursing shortage in the market. Specialty pharmacies simply cannot keep it all in-house right now.”

5 Steps to Become a Leading Referral Source – to discover small steps and investments you can take immediately at your agency to diversify and grow your business with leads from specialty pharmacy organizations.