Assessing the Impact of a Novel Integrated Palliative Care and Medical Oncology Inpatient Service on Health Care Utilization before Hospice Enrollment.
BACKGROUND: Evidence increasingly supports the integration of specialist palliative care (PC) into routine cancer care. A novel, fully integrated PC and medical oncology inpatient service was developed at Duke University Hospital in 2011. OBJECTIVE: To assess the impact of PC integration on health care utilization among hospitalized cancer patients before hospice enrollment. METHODS: Retrospective cohort study. Patients in the solid tumor inpatient unit who were discharged to hospice between September 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010 (pre-PC integration), and September 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012 (postintegration). Cohorts were compared on the following outcomes from their final hospitalization before hospice enrollment: intensive care unit days, invasive procedures, subspecialty consultations, radiographic studies, hospital length of stay, and use of chemotherapy or radiation. Cohort differences were examined with descriptive statistics and nonparametric tests. RESULTS: Two hundred ninety-six patients were included in the analysis (133 pre-PC integration; 163 post-PC integration). Patient characteristics were similar between cohorts. Health care utilization was relatively low in both groups, although 26% and 24% were receiving chemotherapy at the time of admission or during hospitalization in the pre- and post-PC integration cohorts, respectively, and 6.8% in each cohort spent time in an intensive care unit. We found no significant differences in utilization between cohorts. DISCUSSION: PC integration into an inpatient solid tumor service may not impact health care utilization during the final hospitalization before discharge to hospice. This likely reflects the greater benefits of integrating PC farther upstream from the terminal hospitalization, if one hopes to meaningfully impact utilization near the end of life.
Ray, EM; Riedel, RF; LeBlanc, TW; Rushing, CN; Galanos, AN
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