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Technology That Makes A Difference In Patients’ Lives

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Local Infusion’s Head of Product Tina Liu opens up about the unique challenges & opportunities in the infusion space, how operations influences technology, and why, at the end of the day, it’s all in service of a better patient experience. 

For Tina Liu, Head of Product & Operations at Local Infusion, working in healthcare runs in the family. Growing up with a dentist as a father, Liu would occasionally help him around the office.

“From an early age, I was interested in the role that clinicians play in providing care,” Liu explains, “because I would see patients come in with a problem, then be treated for it. Having had that background, I wanted to go into healthcare.” 

After receiving a Masters in Public Health and Health Policy, Liu joined the medicaid team at Anthem where she worked on everything from payment strategy to health homes to education and engagement initiatives, all the while learning how payors provide care for disadvantaged populations. Stints at Progeny, Ziapri, and Kindbody followed before she joined the team at Local Infusion. 

A large part of her work centers around operations — in other words, processes. “I think a lot about how patients engage with us before they come in. And then what their experience is like once they’re at the center, and how we can best connect the two experiences so it feels cohesive.” 

Liu also is heavily involved with the product and technology side of the business which, as she explains, is inextricable from operations.

“It’s very complicated to get a patient approved for therapy. Technology helps us do the work faster, and because our team handles everything end-to-end, we need to make sure we’re streamlined in terms of process AND technology to get patients approved faster.” 

Below, Liu opens up about the unique challenges and opportunities in the infusion space, how operations influences technology (and vice-versa), and why, at the end of the day, it’s all in service of a better patient experience. 

This is your first foray into the infusion space. How is working on product here different from other product work you’ve done? 

There are challenges with incorporating technology in industries where you can’t really spend a ton of time with patients. In fertility and urgent care, for example, it’s all about volume. You’re billing every single minute that you’re seeing the patient. With infusion therapy, there’s an opportunity to engage patients because it’s a place to relax. 

At Local Infusion, it really does feel like a spa — and not just in the decor. It’s in the way you’re greeted, how you can watch TV or chat with someone. It’s truly all-encompassing versus just a 15-minute, in-and-out experience. There’s a close-knit home feel with this model that you can’t necessarily replicate in other industries because of the focus on utilization and staff churn. 

How has your  experience in the operations part of the business helped inform the digital product? 

A few years back when establishing the mission and vision of Local Infusion, we were pretty ambitious in that we wanted every patient to have the best experience (it should feel like home!) and get care as quickly as possible. Without the proper tools, we wouldn’t be able to do that. 

Product and operations work closely together because the technology has to actually make a difference in the day-to-day of patients’ lives. Simply put, you’re wasting time and energy in product if you don’t understand what operations needs — you can’t operate in a silo. I like to think about technology as the oil greasing up the gears. It maintains the workflows so we can respond to referrals, organize all of the information, communicate with patients/payors/providers, and get patients treatment as quickly as possible.

READ MORE: Better Technology = Better Patient Experience At Local Infusion. Here’s Why.

At Local Infusion, we often talk about how we’re able to make headway in an industry like healthcare in the United States — which is notoriously wasteful and bureaucratic — by serving all three stakeholders: patient, payor, and provider. How do you think about that in your work? 

Local Infusion is built in such a way that we actually benefit each stakeholder. For the payor, we reduce the cost of care and improve outcomes while maintaining very high patient satisfaction. For providers’ offices that need to keep up with the volume of administrative work, we really take on a lot of the process so we can get patients treated faster. 

Finally, and most importantly for us at Local Infusion, it’s all about doing what’s right for the patient. Because if the patient is feeling better and getting access to care quickly, they won’t be going to urgent care for their symptoms; they won’t receive a mismanaged diagnosis; they won’t get on the wrong drug or stop taking it — and that means better outcomes and lowered costs, which benefits everyone. 

What do you consider to be the biggest challenges and opportunities in the infusion industry, specifically as it relates to patient experience? 

One of the challenges with the industry is that there are too many silos — we want to bring centralization into the picture to have a care management model where the patient has a team of people taking care of them. While that sounds easy in nature — just assign a bunch of people to that person — it’s hard to administer. That’s where the opportunity lies, in introducing tools that will enhance workflow and processes that allow for that centralization. 

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