Friday, October 14, 2011

Exemplar Hospitals for Late-Life Care

Geisinger Medical Center, in Danville, Pa., has become a favorite of President Obama when he discusses models of health care delivery worthy of emulation (so has Mayo Clinic and several others, but that's a subject for another post). It set me to wondering: how well does their (Geisinger) model translate into late-life care? Using data of palliative outcome measures drawn from the Dartmouth Medical Atlas, the research staff at DAI Palliative Care Group compiled a Hospital Palliative Performance Profile for Geisinger. Not unexpectedly, Geisinger produced a Palliative Performance Score of 105, earning it an A Grade and Exemplar Hospital status. Geisinger scored well in deaths by location (its patients were 8% less likely to die in the hospital than the national average) but where its performance stood out was in avoiding use of the ICU during a decedent’s last six months of life (Geisinger’s rate was less than half of the national average).

The DAI staff identified at least two other Exemplar Hospitals in Pennsylvania – Lancaster General Hospital (Lancaster) and Susquehanna Health System (Williamsport).
Susquehanna’s score dazzled us – 130, one of the highest in the nation. There are seven palliative outcome measures used to develop the Performance Profiles – Susquehanna scored better than the state and national averages in six of seven measures. For one measure, hospital days per decedent during the last six months of life, Susquehanna’s experience was nearly 40% better than the national rate. Surely, there must be lessons to be learned here, practices to be emulated.

Could it be that an Accountable Palliative Care Organization (APCO) has evolved over the past decade, under the leadership of a chief palliative care officer in the Williamsport community? Is there a “bellwether” HPM practice which contributes to the Hospital’s exemplar status? Suffice it to say, for the present, that there are exemplar hospitals and communities whose performance in late-life care suggests that there remains considerable room for improvement for most hospitals, and in most communities.


Stephen Tweed said...

Great article Tim. What do Geisinger, Mayo, and Cleveland Clinic all have in common? They are all physician run group practices. What can we learn from that?

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