Friday, November 25, 2011

Use of Hospice Benefit Grows, Late Referrals Persist

A recent discussion at a regional meeting of Hospice and Palliative Medicine practitioners grew lively when the subject turned to use of hospice, and whether use has grown. Following the meeting,  I reviewed NHPCO reports for 2010 and 2005. Turned out opposing viewpoints were each right, to some extent. Here's what I concluded.
  • 30% growth in the percentage of Medicare decedents using hospice benefit. Impressive! 
  • Short-stay patients (7 days or less) remained level at one-third of total deaths and discharges. Intractable?
  • The size of hospices remained small - nearly 8 out of 10 have fewer than three admissions per week. Subscale?
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 twenty 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?

1 comment:

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