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Local Infusion Co-Founder & CEO Woody Baum On Upending The Status Quo

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Woody Baum, CEO & Co-Founder of Local Infusion on where he sees the biggest challenges and opportunities in the industry.

When you ask Woody Baum what drives him day in and day out as CEO of Local Infusion, he’s quick to answer: “we get to be the good guy, and everyone wins.”

“There are so many patients who did not even realize that they were receiving suboptimal care but now have such a better experience. We’re saving health plans $40,000 on average per patient. And we’re saving referring providers 3 hours of administrative work every time they refer a patient. It’s a really big win for everyone.”

Along with Co-Founder Ashley Knapp, Woody has built Local Infusion to have a cascading effect: every win benefits another stakeholder in the ecosystem, which ultimately ladders up to a North Star goal of creating a better experience for patients. 

Approaching healthcare with an outsider’s perspective 

After starting his career in finance, Woody moved into the healthcare industry, where he started a company in the infusion industry that operated on an in-office partnership model. They worked with independent physicians to open in-office infusion centers that would help reduce the cost of care for payors and generate more revenue for physicians.

“Healthcare can be intimidating from the outside, but the concept made sense to me,” recalls Woody. He quickly became a subject matter expert, developing a strong vision for a company that would provide a differentiated, higher-touch experience. But it wasn’t without its challenges.

“Because we operated on a partnership model, we could only open where we had willing partners, thus limiting our ability to be helpful to payors,” explains Woody. “We had to fish where the fish were and couldn’t dictate where we went — and it might not always be convenient for patients. We were also operating under the constraints of doctors offices, so we couldn’t control the patient experience. Ultimately, there were fewer eligible practices than we thought, and we couldn’t solve for payor or patient access needs.”

Despite these barriers, Woody saw the potential for meaningful impact in the industry. But in order to bring the vision to life, the business model would have to change to allow for more agency and a better patient experience. It was around this time that Woody and Ashley started noticing the fusion of healthcare and hospitality: Kindbody for women’s health, OneMedical for primary care, Tend for dentistry. Which got them thinking…can this be applied to the infusion world?

A real focus on the patient experience

From the beginning, Woody and Ashley knew they wanted to found more than just an infusion center. 

“It was always our belief that we’re not a transactional site of service,” Woody explains, “because we build meaningful, trusted relationships that extend beyond just infusion.” 

In order to do this, they knew they’d have to focus on better technology, streamlined operations, and a superior patient experience — which, as Woody explains, are all related. 

“The patient journey begins the day they’re diagnosed with a disease like MS, for example. The neurologist says, I’m going to prescribe Ocrevus and send your referral to the nearby infusion center. They send a fax to the center, and maybe you don’t hear from them over the next few days so you drive yourself into a panic thinking…did they actually receive my order? So you call the center, maybe it goes to voicemail. And by the time you reach them, and they process your prescription, and get prior authorization approved, and schedule you for your appointment, it’s been a month and your disease has progressed.”

A month from referral to treatment was, for Woody, unacceptable. So he worked on building a team with the expertise to leverage technology in a strategic way in order to reduce processing time to 6 days — over 4 times faster than the industry standard.

“Technology isn’t a feature in and of itself,” says Woody. “It’s a means to better clinical outcomes.” 

Raising the bar for the industry

When Woody describes what the “status quo” infusion experience is like, he often draws upon the image of a bullpen. 

“Imagine five or more chairs in a small room arranged in a U shape, under fluorescent lighting,” he explains. “It’s loud, and there is no privacy as they’re receiving treatment. There are often long, unexpected wait times — you never know how much time you might need to take off of work. Many infusion centers are only open 1-2 days a week, which is not patient centric. And for patients with a chronic condition, this needs to happen regularly every few weeks. It is all unnecessarily stressful and particularly detrimental for patients whose symptoms are triggered by stress. But the thing is, they don’t even know that this could all be so much better. The expectations are so low because that’s all anyone has ever known.” 

Looking ahead into 2024, Woody is laser-focused on changing that. On making sure that everyone who could know about Local Infusion does so they can raise the bar — not only for patients, but for providers and health plans too. And it is all working, across all of its centers; Local Infusion is consistently receiving 98/100 patient satisfaction NPS scores, significantly above healthcare’s industry average of 58/100.

“Patients deserve better. They’re receiving suboptimal care and, through no fault of their own, don’t realize that better experiences exist. Where we began operating in New Hampshire, we found patients were routinely waiting 6+ weeks for their first infusion to be scheduled. Then there’s referring providers, who are so inundated with work that it’s really challenging for patients to get their attention. And health plans are spending more than they need to. It doesn’t have to be that way.” 

A passionate, mission-driven team to shape the future of chronic condition patient care 

When Woody got his start in the industry, he was immediately struck by the impact that infused medications have on patients.

“What I saw were patients who were so grateful that these drugs existed,” he explains, “and that there was someone advocating to get them on therapy."

But in order to reach as many patients as possible, he knew he’d have to surround himself with a team that was equally as passionate and mission-oriented. 

“I’ve seen the impact it has on patients when a team is unified in what we’re trying to do. Sure, I work hard, but more than anything, I have the good fortune of being surrounded by people who are incredibly hardworking and passionate about what they do. That is what drives our success as a company.” 

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