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How to combat infusion staffing challenges with a referral management tool 

How to combat infusion staffing challenges with a referral management tool

Does your nursing agency belong to the 51% of home infusion providers that experience overbooking frequently, very frequently, or, worse, almost-always? You’re not alone.

With two out of three infusion centers struggling with staff shortages, up to 40% of home infusion businesses claim that their biggest barrier to smooth operations is unbalanced nurse schedules.  

While staffing challenges are certainly nothing new in the home infusion industry, they now conflict with the rising demand for nurse referrals. Whether you have a handful, dozens, or hundreds of nurses, persistent shortages are likely limiting your ability to deliver effective patient care and satisfy referral sources, particularly your partnerships with specialty pharmacy organizations. 

Let’s take a look at the various challenges shaping the home infusion landscape, along with how referral management tools designed for the complexities of subcontracted nursing agencies can solve them. 

Top challenges faced by subcontracted nursing agencies 

From increased Medicare and Medicaid coverage to specialty drug availability and patient demand, the home infusion industry has grown 310% in the past decade, with no signs of slowing.  

Though this unbridled growth has helped increase access to home infusion drugs, it’s occurred alongside various challenges, including staffing, manual processing, and breakdowns in communication.  

1. Persistent staffing shortages  

The shortages in healthcare personnel that began during the COVID-19 pandemic have persisted in the home infusion industry.

Recent surveys reveal that 64% of infusion providers say staffing shortages are still causing challenges, reporting a 13% increase year-over-year in longer patient wait times.  

Beyond hindering the ability to deliver effective patient care, staffing shortages put pressure on post-acute providers and inhibit home infusion nurses from satisfying referral sources.  

2. Manual referral processing 

A webinar focused on streamlining the referral process for home infusion nursing agencies uncovered that staff spend countless hours managing referrals. They spend 6+ hours each week performing manual administrative tasks related to managing referrals.  

Whether it’s tracking phone calls, emails, faxes, and texts or coordinating care documentation back to referral partners, such as specialty pharmacies, referral details can become disorganized.   

3. Disconnects in communication 

At a time when infusion providers are administering home and specialty infusion therapy to 3.2 million patients annually. Therefore, communication between providers, pharmacies, and nurses is pivotal.  

Poor communication between infusion nursing agency management and nurses can lead to inefficiencies and dissatisfaction among referral partners at best and potential errors in care delivery at worst.

Needless to say, it’s vital to simplify and centralize scheduling and coordination

How infusion providers can improve scheduling for nurses

Solution: Eliminate roadblocks with a referral management tool 

Home infusion software is likely at the heart of your organization. With helping to power point-of-care patient documentation, visit verification, infusion timing reports, and more.

By supercharging your home infusion software with a referral management tool, you can deploy a comprehensive scheduling solution to better meet the rising demands of your referral partners. 

Here are several ways a referral management tool can help your agency: 

1. Coordinate and schedule available nurses with ease  

Too many patients but too little staff? A referral management tool can help with that.

Take AlayaCare Marketplace feature for example. By providing a platform for subcontracted nursing agencies to easily find and connect with available nurses, providers can mitigate staffing shortages, working to improve efficiency and enhance the continuum of care.  

Referral management tools enable health authorities, such as specialty pharmacies and infusion agencies, to send visits and service offers to verified providers, like subcontracted agencies.  

In return, agencies can accept referrals directly from verified providers, fill nurse schedules, and solve staffing shortages, all with a few clicks of a button.  

5 Tips to become a preferred referral partner for specialty pharmacy

2. Minimize manual processes with specialty pharmacies  

It’s no secret that manually processing referrals while effectively fulfilling patient needs is a non-stop balancing act for providers and pharmacies alike.  

Every bit of effort invested in these tasks—like documenting drug-based details, infusion instructions, allergy information, and more—can amount to substantial delays in initiating care and, ultimately, running your business. 

A referral management tool helps eliminate redundant tasks to minimize manual processes, limit interactions with specialty pharmacies, and simplify workflows across the board.  

By digitizing the referral process, you also give specialty pharmacies increased visibility into when you’ve coordinated visits for particular patients, streamlining when drugs are to be shipped to them. 

3. Focus on providing patients with better care experiences 

With a referral management tool, your agency can transform incoming referrals into new patient profiles in one click, making it easier than ever to assess each patient’s particular needs. However, the lack of change in motor drive would suggest peripheral fatigue metabolites may not have had such an influence.  

Relieving your team of repetitive administrative tasks allows them to approach the care coordination aspect more carefully, reviewing potential patient risks or preferences to identify the best possible caregiver.  

By prioritizing care coordination over manual processes, you can enhance patient satisfaction and caregiver experiences to drive better outcomes for your patient group.  

Spend less time on paperwork, billing and more time on home infusion patient care

Streamline specialty pharmacy referrals with ease 

While the home infusion industry is slated to scale, the verdict is still out on when staffing challenges (and the host of issues that accompany them) will end.

Rather than create more work for your subcontracted agency, find a technology partner that considers specific infusion capabilities in its software—that way, your nurses spend more time with clients and less time with manual tasks. 

AlayaCare Marketplace is an integrated tool in AlayaCare Cloud, which allows organizations to send and receive visit referrals between providers.

Send, manage and track all incoming and outgoing referrals in a single system, eliminating the need to pick up the phone or fax referral information.

How it works

Are you curious about the challenges a referral management tool could solve at your nursing agency? Watch our on-demand webinar on AlayaCare Marketplace features to find out! 

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