Prime Time for the Patient-Centric Cold Chain
Following the introduction of COVID into our lives, the “touchless” patient encounter has gained momentum with providers and payers. Many clinical trials have also gone virtual to overcome the lack of site access during COVID lockdowns. All in all COVID has taught us that we must innovate to keep moving ahead. Given the significant paradigm shifts to emerge from COVID, it’s not surprising that forward thinking entities have aggressively started to reimagine what a technology enabled house call could look like in the 2020s.
Case in point: in the first half of 2021 alone, more than 500 million dollars has been invested in home-based care outlets and related digital pharmacy services. As these alternative care site models gain acceptance, expect the envelope to be pushed around therapies that can be delivered in the comfort of one’s home. For example, The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health is piloting home-based delivery of a standard chemo protocol for lymphoma patients while earlier this year Ro, a virtual care provider, administered the COVID vaccine for patients confined to their homes in the state of New York.
While all signals are pointing to home-based medicine emerging as a new setting of care, challenges remain. For example, ensuring that temperature-controlled therapies ordered as part of patient treatment plans reach the patient’s home on time and with no dangerous temperature excursions that could diminish effectiveness.
As medical care increasingly goes high tech and the patient home becomes a desired setting of care, manufacturer supply chains must be ready to flex in order to effectively meet increased direct-to-patient distribution needs.