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Ashley Knapp, RN, MSCN, Co-Founder of Local Infusion, Is Determined To Reach As Many Patients As Possible

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Local Infusion Co-Founder Ashley Knapp reflects on her career journey, state of the infusion industry, and goal to “cast the widest net possible.”

When Ashley Knapp began working as an infusion nurse at a neurology practice in Ohio in 2011, she was fairly new to the industry. Infusion therapy wasn’t something she was exposed to in her previous work in emergency rooms but was immediately drawn to the opportunity to build relationships with patients. 

“There’s a uniqueness to this industry, where patients come in once a month or sometimes even more frequently,” she explains. 

Initially, Ashley was primarily treating multiple sclerosis patients. She became a Multiple Sclerosis Certified Nurse (MSCN) infusing Tysabri — “one of the only IV medications on the market for that condition at the time,” she recalls. 

Over the years that followed, Ashley’s passion for the space grew — not just on the clinical side, but the business side as well. Now, she’s channeling over a decade of clinical experience balanced with sharp business acumen and a deep-seated conviction that patients deserve better, into her role as Co-Founder & Chief of Staff at Local Infusion. 

Below, Ashley reflects on her career journey, state of the infusion industry, and North Star goal to “cast the widest net possible.” 

“When I started as an infusion nurse, I quickly realized that the industry is antiquated. The bar is very low.”

There hasn’t really been a benchmark set in the infusion space. Part of that is related to the fact that private practices were adding infusion on as a service, and it wasn’t getting the full focus as a separate business or industry. It deserves the process and technology that go into things like lab draws, pet scans, MRIs, and mammography. 

It’s also challenging because patients don’t realize that they have options when receiving their infusion treatment. A lot of times they’ll just be directed to go to the local cancer center or local hospital outpatient infusion center. And patients who have chronic conditions are oftentimes otherwise healthy — just managing the condition with these medications. So they don’t want to go to an oncology center, but they don’t realize that they have another option. 

And then there’s prior authorization to consider. Insurance companies put up barriers in terms of what’s approved and the timeline of when that’s approved, but we have to remember that our patients have an active disease going on when put on these medications. Time is of the essence.

I was intrigued by these challenges not just on the clinical side, but the business side as well. That prompted me to go back to school to get my MBA. I really wanted to have that full vision for how business works, specifically in the healthcare industry.

“My ultimate goal is that Local Infusion sets the standard for infusion centers across the country.” 

We’re taking all of this knowledge — from myself, from my Co-Founder Woody, and from others who work with us who have been in the industry for a while — and weaving it into our model at Local Infusion. 

We put a big emphasis on communication with patients and referring providers. When you think about the patient perspective…they’ve just been diagnosed with a chronic condition and put on these medications that are very expensive and oftentimes have a lot of side effects. Sometimes it’s the first time they’ve had a real health problem. A lot of the time, they’re young. So it’s very scary. When they walk out of their provider’s door and a referral is sent to us, we’re communicating with them from the beginning. There’s no questions about how to get in touch with us or what the steps in the process are. We’re letting them know the status of their prior authorization and communicating the cost of treatments as well. 

In addition to communication, we focus on the actual experience. Our centers are very spa-like. We have private exam rooms; patients can relax and watch TV or connect to the WiFi and work. The goal is to create an experience that feels more like a self-care appointment versus a feeling of dread to come in and get their infusion. 

“When the patients have a better experience, it leads to better clinical outcomes.” 

When I first started at the neurology clinic, I would see patients who were very scared. They would come in and not really know what to expect, especially if they were a first-time infusion recipient. But then they’d get to know me and how the clinic operated. They’d come in a second time, then a third time. And then they’re like…okay, this isn’t that bad. And that leads to better clinical outcomes because they don’t cancel their appointments; they adhere to the medication controlling their chronic disease. And that’s what I wanted to cross over to Local Infusion.

I’ve always said that my patients enjoyed coming into their appointments with me, and I enjoyed having appointments with them as well. We got to know each other — I knew about their family, upcoming events, things like that. And that was my hope for Local Infusion. That patients would come in and feel as though this wasn’t a burden, just a way for them to manage their care and their health. 

“We want to cast the widest net to provide this great experience to as many patients across the country as possible.” 

When I was working as an infusion nurse, I treated my 70 or so patients a month and thought it was great. And after my MBA when I moved to a business development role, I did get a little sad leaving my patients behind. But then I realized I was able to bring this service across 20+ centers across the country and not just impact 70 patients in a month but 1,000 or 1,500. 

That’s what I see for the future of Local Infusion. We are setting the standard in terms of communication, technology, patient experience, and clinical excellence. And from there, we can cast the widest net possible and open up many more Local Infusion locations to provide this great experience to patients across the country. 

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