July 16, 2015 — Blog Post
The Potential Economic Impact of Palliative Care Consultations
According to the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), 90 million people are currently living with serious illnesses nationwide and, of that population, six million people could benefit from palliative care.
But, as researchers recently found, patients are not the only ones that can benefit – hospitals can potentially reduce their expenses and their average length of stay by initiating palliative care conversations earlier in a patient’s journey.
The multi-institutional study, conducted using a prospective, observational design, targeted patients with advanced cancer who were admitted into the hospital, and measured the impact of palliative care consultations.
Researchers evaluated 969 patients admitted in five U.S. hospitals from 2007-2011. Of those patients, 265 saw a palliative care consultation team and 713 patients received standard care. Patients were also analyzed based on how early into the admission they received a consultation.
From that analysis, it was found that palliative care consultations can be directly tied to cost-savings.
By comparing patients that received a consultation within six days of admission and patients who did not, researchers estimated a 14% reduction in hospital costs. For patients that received a consultation within two days of admission, researchers estimated a 24% reduction in costs.
Additionally, the study revealed intervening with a palliative care consultation within two days of admission reduced length of stay by 13%.
While this study reveals an unprecedented economic impact of palliative care, researchers acknowledge not all selection bias could be removed from the study, nor can analogous findings be expected for patients with conditions other than advanced cancer.
Yet, it does serve as yet another example of how partnering with patients to make treatment options can be beneficial. Whether patients choose a palliative care pathway or not, engaging them in dialogue helps them take informed steps in their right direction and can potentially lead to cost-savings for the system.
Emmi Solutions has helped leading healthcare organizations, both in the provider and payer markets, engage patients in these conversations. Included in our EmmiEngage® subscription is an advance care suite, including palliative care, advance directive and hospice care programs. You can see a clip of our palliative care program, here.