The Hospital Clínic launches an immunotherapy home infusion programme

The Hospital Clínic Medical Oncology Service, led by Dr. Aleix Prat, has launched a home infusion programme for solid organ cancer patients and immunotherapy treatment.  The programme, which started to be implemented last June, is part of the Hospital Clínic Haematology and Oncology Institute (ICMHO) Home Care Unit and is coordinated by Dr. Francesc Fernández and Dr. Javier Marco. It is a patient-centred care project and its basic aim is to improve the quality of life of cancer patients.   A project with the collaboration of Bristol Myers Squibb. 

The home programme covers everything from carrying out periodical lab tests to administering the drug at home.

The home programme covers everything from carrying out the periodical lab tests and administering drugs at the patient’s home to health education adapted to the knowledge of the patient’s disease and the drug itself. It also deals with the early detection of possible complications. To date, 4 patients have been included in the programme and no notable incidences have been recorded. The programme combines clinical safety, excellence and innovative healthcare in a single process, because it includes comprehensive patient care. 

How does the care process work? 

Under normal conditions, patients who receive immunotherapy infusions have to make several very frequent visits to the referral hospital every 2, 3 or 4 weeks.  Each infusion usually involves up to 3 different contacts at the hospital with different interactions: the prior lab tests, the visit with the usual medical team, and the infusion of the drug. For different reasons, these logistics can be uncomfortable for the patient and also for the carers and families (advanced age, frailty, lack of economic resources, etc.). 

For this reason, the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona has developed the home infusion programme. The process works as follows: a nursing professional from the Home Care Unit (UAD) goes to patient's home 24 or 48 hours before the medical visit in order to carry out the corresponding tests and also to conduct a symptom questionnaire.  The patient then goes to the hospital and visits the oncology specialist, who prescribes the treatment to be followed.  After this, the schedule for the administration of the infusions is planned. These infusions will be given at the patient's home.  

Immunotherapy is a biological therapy that uses the body’s natural defences to fight cancer.  Substances produced by the body or manufactured in a laboratory are used to improve or restore the immune system, which acts to destroy cancer cells and thus prevent the cancer from growing.  

The advantages of the home infusion programme for patients with solid organ cancer and immunotherapy treatment 

The main aim of the programme is to improve the quality of care received by cancer patients receiving immunotherapy treatment and, in turn, by their carers and relatives.  However, it also has other advantages such as lightening the workload of the Hospital Clínic Haematology and Oncology Day Hospital. Finally, it also allows a pharmacoeconomic analysis to be carried out. 

According to Dr. Aleix Prat, the head of the Hospital Clínic Oncology Service, “we want to provide patients with the best possible quality of life. That is why we have promoted this programme, which aims to ensure the patient has to visit the Hospital less frequently and that the drugs that are usually administered at the Day Hospital can be given at home. This represents a higher quality of life for the patients, which, alongside the increased survival rate, allows us to provide much more personalized oncology.” 

Meanwhile, Dr. Javier Marco, coordinator of the programme, says that “all the patients who have taken part in the programme since the summer have been very satisfied and there have been no complications.” “By administering the drugs at home, we greatly reduce the feeling of medicalization in the cancer patient who is permanently in contact with the Hospital,” he concludes.  

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