As Dr. Christian Sinclair pointed out in a recent post on the blog Pallimed, the 2010 edition of the NHPCO report Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America was short of surprises when compared to data from last year's report.
So I looked back to a 2005 report to better understand how the hospice industry has changed (or not) over the past five years. Among my surprises were these:
-Impressive growth in the percentage of decedents receiving hospice care. Sure, I expected growth, but not at the rate we've seen.
-Short-stay patients (7 days or less) remained level at one-third of total deaths and discharges. Is this an intractable issue, in which case hospices should consider improving their capacity to provide exemplary care for short-stay patients, or does there remain optimism that knowledge of more timely (earlier) referrals will spread quickly, thus reducing the percentage of short-stay patients.
-The size of hospices remained small - nearly 8 out of 10 have fewer than three admissions per week. Given the speculative talk about consolidation, I expected that over the past five years there would have been considerably fewer hospices admitting less that 150 patients per year.
Got me to thinking. If I was considering hospice care for a family member, aware that there is a one-in-three chance that the episode of hospice care will be no longer than a week, I'd want to select a hospice that admits ten times the number of patients than the average-sized hospice. I figure that the additional volume would mean greater proficiency in short-stay care.
Does volume matter? No studies to prove either way.
What do your professional instincts tell you?
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