As technology changes and medicine continues to advance, patients are offered more care options that make their lives a little bit easier.

Novant Health is providing more choices with expanded services, including a program that allows some patients to spend fewer nights in the hospital and return home sooner.

One strategy, called “transitional care,” gives patients who are home from the hospital easy access to the Novant Health team in the event that they need care. Transitional care is used often for conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure, as well as for bariatric patients who need fluids after surgery, said Julie Schaefer, emergency room nurse manager at Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center emergency department.

Another recent trend, which is related, is increased access to outpatient “infusion services.” Here’s what you need to know.

Where infusion services fits in

Infusion services, which typically offer intravenous treatments, vary across Novant Health hospitals. For instance, patients at Kernersville Medical Center can receive blood transfusions, IV fluids, port/catheter management, and infusion and injections for conditions like Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and asthma. The treatments are provided in a new room with 10 infusion chairs. Cancer-related infusion services in Kernersville are offered on the hospital’s campus at Novant Health Oncology Specialists - Kernersville. All Novant Health markets offer infusion services

“Transitional care and infusion services weave together in that we have a lot of patients who are admitted with an infection like cellulitis, which typically requires IV antibiotics of a certain length of time,” Schaefer said. “Previously, those patients were being admitted to the hospital. But what we offer in the infusion center is they never have to be admitted or they can be discharged early.”

Where this kind of care is going

Schaefer said she expects the need for such services will grow.

“The older our population gets the more chronic illnesses we tend to experience,” Schaefer said. “And a lot of the medications for chronic illnesses are incredibly expensive, and they can’t be given at a doctor’s office because they require a specific amount of monitoring. So patients can come into the hospital as outpatients, get their infusions and go home.”

A similar emphasis on patient convenience and potentially lowering costs is taking place across the system, including both large hospitals and at other similar smaller community hospitals like Novant Health Clemmons Medical Center, which recently opened a transitional care and infusion services area built from the ground up.

This type of care provides a better experience for patients, said Teresa Carter, emergency room nurse manager at Clemmons Medical Center, who was a member of the design team. “Our patients may spend five, six, eight hours in these chairs, so we want them comfortable,” Carter said.

The transitional care area also has lots of natural light and it overlooks a healing garden, where patients can walk while receiving infusions via portable machines. Food can also be brought in from the café.

 “Most of the time with infusion services you see the need and you find the space in your facility where you can start up the service,” Carter said. “But for Clemmons, we focused on what the patient needed since we could build it, and that’s what we did. It means having the services closer to home.”

Clemmons Medical Center also offers all infusion services on-site in addition to cancer-related ones.

For details about infusion services available at a Novant Health hospital near you, visit .

Photo:  Teresa Carter, emergency room nurse manager at Clemmons Medical Center.