Physician allocation of Medicare resources for patients with advanced cancer.
BACKGROUND: Little is known about what patients and physicians value in end-of-life care, or how these groups would craft a health plan for those with advanced cancer. OBJECTIVE: The study objective was to assess how otolaryngology, head and neck surgery (OHNS) physicians would structure a Medicare benefit plan for patients with advanced cancer, and to compare this with cancer patient and cancer patient caregiver preferences. DESIGN: OHNS physicians used an online version of a validated tool for assessing preferences for health plans in the setting of limited resources. These data were compared to cancer patient and caregiver preferences. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: OHNS physicians nationwide were assessed with comparison to similar data obtained in a separate study of cancer patients and their caregivers treated at Duke University Medical Center. RESULTS: Otolaryngology physicians (n=767) completed the online assessment and this was compared with data from 146 patients and 114 caregivers. OHNS physician allocations differed significantly in 14 of the 15 benefit categories when compared with patients and caregivers. Physicians elected more coverage in the Advice, Emotional Care, Palliative Care, and Treatment for Cancer benefit categories. Patients and their caregivers elected more coverage in the Cash, Complementary Care, Cosmetic Care, Dental and Vision, Drug Coverage, Home Improvement, House Calls, Nursing Facility, Other Medical Care, and Primary Care benefit categories. CONCLUSIONS: Otolaryngology physicians have significantly different values in end-of-life care than cancer patients and their caregivers. This information is important for efficient allocation of scarce Medicare resources and for effective end-of-life discussions, both of which are key for developing appropriate health policy.
Rocke, DJ; Lee, WT; Beumer, HW; Taylor, DH; Schulz, K; Thomas, S; Puscas, L
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