Insights for Expanding a Home Infusion Pharmacy Network to Improve Patient Access

Byron Yoshino, PharmD, CEO of Pharmacare Hawaii, discusses the future of the home infusion space within the United States in the coming years.

Pharmacy Times interviewed Byron Yoshino, PharmD, CEO of Pharmacare Hawaii, about how Pharmacare Hawaii is growing its home infusion pharmacy network through the use of intelligence gathered from data analysis.

Alana Hippensteele: Hi, I’m Alana Hippensteele with Pharmacy Times. Joining me is Byron Yoshino, PharmD, CEO of Pharmacare Hawaii, who is here to discuss Pharmacare Hawaii’s efforts to support its rapidly growing home infusion pharmacy network by leveraging intelligence derived from data from billions of medical events across its network.

Do you have any recommendations or insights for specialty pharmacies who may also be currently looking to expand their home infusion network?

Byron Yoshino: Certainly, for specialty pharmacies offering home infusion, infusion in an ambulatory infusion center, or an ambulatory infusion suite can help expand opportunities for serving patients. There are many more specialty drugs having to be infused, and so having that component to the specialty pharmacy services will certainly help grow that business.

Alana Hippensteele: Absolutely. What do you think will be the future of the home infusion space within the country in the coming years?

Byron Yoshino: The future of home infusion space is very positive and poised for growth. Just having been to several conferences recently, the mood is very optimistic about the growth and opportunities, even more so than it has been in the very near past. So home infusion, as I mentioned, because of the alternative to hospitalization, certainly with improving clinical outcomes has also been a driving force for that.

As I mentioned, with the advent of the new drugs—the drugs in the pipeline—that are coming out that are having to be infused or injected, I think that also creates a lot of opportunity. I think, as I mentioned, one of the biggest things that can drive the use of home infusion or home infusion services is the freestanding ambulatory infusion suites that become an alternative similar to hospitalization, but alternative to the hospital outpatient infusion centers.

Alana Hippensteele: Right. I understand that Pharmacare Hawaii has been within your family for generations. What brought you to follow in your father and grandfather’s footsteps, and how do you think Pharmacare Hawaii’s strong roots impact its potential for growth in the region?

Byron Yoshino: As a third-generation pharmacist in Hawaii, I always thought that pharmacists can and will be a good resource for people in our community, [as they are] easily accessible and provide information about health care.

As far as far as our long history and roots, being local has meaning in this community, particularly in health care, it’s significant to understand patients and how they like to be treated and cared for. So our mission is ‘Care done right,’ and we believe that caring for everyone like they are our family is really important, and that comes from our local roots.

Alana Hippensteele: You mentioned earlier traveling to conferences. Do you feel like Hawaii’s distance from the mainland impacts opportunities for innovations gleaned from networking events with colleagues in the field due to difficulties associated with such a significant distance?

Byron Yoshino: Well, certainly traveling to the mainland has its challenges because of the cost, the time involved, and the change of time zones makes it very challenging for anybody leaving the islands. Particularly if you look at the East Coast, we’re either 5 or 6 hours behind East Coast time, that really makes it hard for us.

So the one thing that technology has brought is the ability for us to attend virtual meetings, which makes it much more cost effective, but also allows more of our staff to attend. But the one thing that the virtual meetings have a challenging time achieving is the actual networking opportunities, and that really happens between meetings and doing meals and things of that nature. So I hope that the producers of the events will take more of that information and do something to allow us to better network.

Alana Hippensteele: Absolutely. Any closing thoughts?

Byron Yoshino: Well, as I mentioned, the future of home infusion is really bright. The cost saving opportunities are always very important, the health plans want to drive that in many ways, the technology, because of the pandemic, has really accelerated the use of home infusion. Telehealth is much more prevalent and acceptable, and patients definitely do not want to be going to a hospital or an institution where there's a lot of people involved. So, I believe, as I said earlier, home infusion can offer a very, very positive alternative for many patients.