Chemotherapy at home usage surges in response to COVID-19


Bupa’s chemotherapy at home service provider, chemo@home, is experiencing a 50% increase in the number of people accessing home chemotherapy services, as the incidence of COVID-19 in the Australian community continues to rise.

The growth in home based chemotherapy usage comes at a time when immune-suppressed patients, such as those living with cancer, seem to be choosing to avoid going to hospital due to their higher risk of contracting COVID-19 via community transmission.

Cindy Shay, Director, Health Care Management and Innovation at Bupa said that undergoing chemotherapy at any time, not least during a global pandemic, can be a very stressful experience for a patient and their family.

“Testing positive for COVID-19 is a concern for everyone, but particularly for the elderly and those with compromised immunity such as patients undergoing cancer treatment. Where clinically appropriate, many immuno-suppressed patients are taking heightened precautions to reduce their exposure to the virus.”

“Bupa’s Chemotherapy Choices Program enables patients to receive treatment in the familiar and controlled environment of their own home,” Ms Shay said.

Trevor Kenny who utilises the Chemotherapy Choices Program told The Adelaide Advertiser ​"If you are at home and you feel crook, you don't have to move, it is much calmer and far less stressful."

Bupa partnered with service provider chemo@home in August 2018, to provide eligible customers with greater choice over their treatment options at no extra cost to them under Bupa’s Chemotherapy Choices Program. The service is delivered by specially trained nurses and pharmacists at patient’s homes.

Australian and international clinical studies have found that chemotherapy treatment delivered at home can be a safe and effective alternative to having chemotherapy treatment in hospital. It also helps reduce the risk of hospital acquired infections, and may minimise side effects, such as nausea, anaemia, and dehydration in some people due to the personalised nature of the care they receive.

By delivering chemotherapy at home, the service is likely relieving pressure on the broader hospital system during the COVID-19 pandemic by reducing hospital admissions.

“Patients and family can also be assured that the chemo@home nurses and pharmacists are delivering safe, patient-centric services that strictly adhere to infection control policies, standard contact and droplet precautions and government regulations relating to COVID-19,” Ms Shay said.

The Chemotherapy Choices Program is currently available to eligible customers in Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney; with services planned to commence in Brisbane this month.

For more information on the program click here.