Penn’s shift of some chemotherapy treatments to home started on a small scale before the pandemic, but then took off, according to Justin Bekelman, the radiation oncologist who directs the Penn Center for Cancer Care Innovation.
Bekelman said that Penn had good reasons to launch the effort. “It’s obviously patient-centric and will enhance patients’ experience of cancer treatment,” he said, “but also our infusion suites were all full up.”
Most experts see the move as positive for employers and taxpayers, who pay much of the cost of health care. Insurers pay less for patients who choose an at-home option as opposed to infusion at their main facility or even a specialist’s office.
But chemo in the home means much less money for hospitals, Bekelman noted, making it harder to expand the treatments.
“We need a payment model that keeps health-care providers whole irrespective of where we deliver the treatment,” he said. “That’s a crucial incentive for health systems to invest in providing more care at home and other less expensive locations — a shift that should ultimately save insurers money.”