April 5th, 2013

For years, the hospice and palliative care community has said that hospice enrollment creates cost savings for Medicare. A new report published in the March issue of the journal Health Affairs confirms it: Hospice patients have lower Medicare costs and reduced use of hospital services while improving overall care quality.

The study was conducted by the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. Researchers looked at the most common hospice enrollment periods and found that hospice patients had significantly lower rates of hospital and intensive care use, hospital readmissions and in-hospital death when compared to non-hospice patients. The study also reveals Medicare savings for cancer patients and non-cancer patients. The savings appear to grow as hospice enrollment lengthens.

“My job as the director of Great River Hospice is to provide leadership that ensures faithful adherence to our standards for high value,” said Chris Oleson, RN.  “Expectations are growing for care providers, including Great River Hospice, to make sure that reimbursement through entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid are still adding value to the services they support.”

“Being accountable to payers including private insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare, means Great River Hospice must be committed to providing value through quality care and efficient services at a fair cost.’

The primary goals of hospice are to provide physical, emotional and spiritual goals to patients at the end of life and their families. Saving money is a result of the public’s greater understanding of the end of life and the role of hospice. But it also is a sign of a cultural shift in medicine – moving away from doing everything that can be done and moving toward doing everything that should be done, keeping patients in control.

The goal of health care is to provide the right care at the right time and in the right place. Many people in Iowa and across the nation are learning that there is a time when aggressive treatment, intensive care and long hospital stays are no longer worth the toll they can take on quality of life. When that time comes, hospice often is the right choice because it gives patients and their families the comfort and control they need at the end of life.

For more information, please call Great River Home Health and Hospice at 319-768-3350 or toll-free 877-404-4766.