Currently, within the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, anticancer therapy infusions and injections are primarily offered at VA medical centers (VAMCs) in urban areas. The time and out-of-pocket expenses related to travel present a barrier to care, often leading veterans to seek cancer care in the community. The Minneapolis VA developed a “Remote Infusion” program that deploys a chemotherapy certified RN to administer anticancer and supportive therapies at surrounding Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs). The program expanded in October 2021, and since, they have provided 259 infusions and injections to 145 veterans at 16 CBOCs. These efforts have saved at least 20,000 miles of travel for veterans in the Minneapolis/ St. Cloud catchment area. Building off the success of this program, the National Oncology Program Integrated Project Team has developed the “Close to Me” CBOC Infusion Program.
The “Close to Me” CBOC Infusion Program utilizes VAMCs to compound treatments. Then a chemotherapy certified RN is deployed to the surrounding CBOCs to administer treatments. Veterans eligible for this program must have received and tolerated their first dose of treatment at a VAMC. Medications included in this program have low risk of reaction, short infusion time, and at least 8 hours of drug stability. Treatments include immune check point inhibitors, leuprolide, octreotide, IV fluids, and iron infusions. Additional treatments continue to be evaluated and added. Telehealth modalities are utilized for patient visits with their oncology provider for treatment clearance. An implementation toolkit, including a library of standard operating procedures, note templates, and staffing models, has been developed for VAMCs interested in replicating this program.
The Pittsburgh VAMC launched the first “Close to Me” CBOC Infusion Program June 8, 2022.
The “Close to Me” CBOC infusion program optimizes current VA infrastructure and processes to expand access to the world class oncology care VA provides by reducing travel burden for the veterans. Additional areas of novel solutions under development to provide expanded access points to anticancer therapies include mobile infusion units, mobile compounding units, and home administration.