More people are facing chronic and terminal illness than ever before. Without a coordinated plan of care in the right setting, many of them will be caught in the revolving door of emergency rooms and doctors’ offices. This not only creates needless stress for patients and their caregivers, the increase in hospitalizations brings millions of dollars in unnecessary healthcare cost.
The hospice model of care has long been shown to have tremendous benefits to quality of life for both patients and families, especially when hospice is engaged early in a terminal diagnosis. A new study demonstrates another valuable benefit — the dramatic cost savings that hospice care can offer in the last months of life.
According to healthcare data analytics firm Trella Health, providers today are facing intense pressure to reduce costs, but they are missing a big opportunity by under-utilizing hospice. The new study found that patients who did not elect their hospice benefit incurred as much as $27,455 in additional healthcare costs, compared with patients who received hospice care in their last months of life.
Trella Health analyzed data from 904,000 patients who passed away between July 2018 and June 2019. The patients were grouped into four cohorts of hospice admissions: early, with three months or more of care; medium, with two weeks to three months of care; late, with two weeks or less of hospice care; and none. To help ensure accurate comparisons, patients were required to have at least one hospitalization within one year of their death.
The results show that early hospice referrals were instrumental in decreasing end-of-life costs and keeping patients out of inpatient and ER settings. Patients who received no hospice care were 10 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who received early referrals. In addition, late hospice patients were five times more likely to visit the emergency room during their last month of life than early hospice patients. On average, patients who were referred to hospice early saved an average of $14,000 in the last three months of life.
Return on Investment
In a recent Hospice News article, Trella Health’s CEO Ian Juliano commented, “The research shows that hospice is undervalued for the amount of value it creates. I don’t know of any other care setting that has remotely that type of return, based on the relatively small spend. It’s a very unique care setting, and it’s very obvious that it presents a wonderful return on investment for the payer, which in this case is usually the taxpayer.”
Trella Health reported that only 7% of hospice-eligible patients receive early referrals. That means providers have a significant opportunity make a positive impact on their patients’ end-of-life care, both from a cost standpoint and the patient and family experience.
For more about the study, click here.
If you know someone who could benefit from Hosparus Health’s care, please call us to make a referral at 800-264-0521.