14
Mar

Oncology Medical Homes, Patient Navigators Improved Quality and Saved Costs at End of Life

A recent study in Health Affairs assessed cost and utilization outcomes for 3 innovative care models for Medicare beneficiaries with cancer: oncology medical homes, patient navigator programs, and palliative care initiatives.

A recent study in Health Affairs assessed cost and utilization outcomes for 3 innovative care models for Medicare beneficiaries with cancer: oncology medical homes, patient navigator programs, and palliative care initiatives. The medical home and patient navigator models were associated with significantly lower costs and fewer hospitalizations at the end of life (EOL).

As Medicare attempts to lower its spending, a logical target for savings is the costly last year of life for beneficiaries with cancer. In 2010, the costs for cancer care in the last year of life totaled $37 million, mainly due to frequent hospitalizations, emergency department (ED) visits, and intensive care unit stays. Not only do these outcomes drive up spending, they also represent a diminished quality of life for patients with terminal cancer, who in previous studies have reported that they would prefer palliative care and spiritual support instead of aggressive treatment and inpatient hospitalization. While hospice care is an option, CMS has encouraged the development of innovative care models that provide cancer care outside of hospice.

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