ProHEALTH, a large multi-specialty physician provider group in New York that’s part of the national health care delivery organization, OptumCare, recently conducted a retrospective analysis to quantify cost savings associated and examine the cost-saving impacts of home-based palliative care (HBPC).
The results were recently published in Journal of Palliative Medicine and was to be presented at the Accountable Care Organization World Congress in Washington DC and also at the national conference for the Center to Advanced Palliative Care in Orlando in October 2016.
The goal of the study was to analyze the benefits of HBPC and examine the costs associated with it and to see the economic impact it has on hospitals and patients. According to the Journal, “The researchers studied 651 decedents; 82 enrolled in a home-based palliative care program compared to 569 receiving usual care in three New York counties who died between October 1, 2014, and March 31, 2016. The researchers also compared hospital admissions, ER visits, and hospice utilization rates in the final months of life.”
For the first time, clear-cut research has shown that patients who were treated at home in the last three months of their lives had more of their needs met than if they were in a hospital setting. Regarding cost effectiveness, there was a $12,000 per patient reduction in cost with home-based palliative care compared with patients in a hospital. Further findings found:
- 35% reduction in Medicare Part A;
- 37% reduction in Medicare Part B in the final three months of life;
- Hospital admissions were reduced by 34% in the final month of life for patients enrolled in HBPC; and
- HBPC resulted in a 35% increased hospice enrollment rate and a 240% increased median hospice length of stay compared to usual care.
In addition to significant cost savings, the study has irrefutably proven that home-based palliative care results in fewer hospitalizations, increased hospice use in the final months of life, and better meets the needs of those in advanced stages of illness than a hospital.
The outcome of this study is the first time actual results were measured. The implications of which, can be far-reaching for hospitals that have cited functional decline for those with advanced illness and also for the future of home-based palliative programs.