Home News Briefs Palliative care delivers big cost savings

Palliative care delivers big cost savings

October 2008

Published in the October 2008 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

Study tallies the cost savings from palliative care programs

IN THE LARGEST STUDY OF ITS KIND, researchers have put a price tag on the significant savings per hospital admission of patients enrolled in palliative care programs.

Analyzing administrative data from eight hospitals that had palliative care programs during 2002-04, researchers compared the costs of patients receiving palliative care to patients receiving usual care.

When patients enrolled in palliative care were discharged alive, hospitals showed a net savings per admission of $1,696. For palliative care patients who died, there was an adjusted net savings of $4,908 per admission, with $374 per day in direct cost savings.

Savings included significant reductions in costs for pharmacy, lab and intensive care. Researchers estimate that an interdisciplinary palliative care program saves a 400-bed community hospital $1.3 million a year and an academic medical center more than $2.5 million a year.

The study was published in the Sept. 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. According to the Center to Advance Palliative Care, more than 40% of hospitals in 2006 reported having a palliative care program.

Enrollment now open for first registry of skin/soft tissue infections

A PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY is now enrolling sites in what it bills as the first prospective registry of complicated skin and soft tissue infections.

The registry, which plans to enroll 1,200 inpatients by the end of this year, is designed to better understand treatment patterns and provide data to improve outcomes. Ortho-McNeil, which is sponsoring the registry, wants to enroll more than 50 hospitals across the country to participate.

The registry will focus on the four major types of skin and soft tissue infections: diabetic foot infections, surgical site infections, deep soft tissue abscesses and cellulitis. The registry will note patient management, including details like the selection and timing of antibiotics, changes in treatment regimen and related economic impact.

Skin and soft tissue infections now account for nearly 10% of hospital admissions, with surgical site infections making up 25% of all hospital infections. For more information on the registry, including enrollment sites, call Myoung S. Kim, PhD, director of outcomes research, at 908-218-6419. TH

Medical students continue to pass on internal medicine

ONLY 2% OF FOURTH-YEAR MEDICAL STUDENTS last year planned to go on to train in general internal medicine, according to a recently published survey.

Researchers surveyed nearly 1,200 fourth-year students in 11 U.S. medical schools in spring 2007, asking students about their prospective career choices.

While more than 23% reported that they will likely enter internal medicine careers, general internal medicine was cited by only 2% of respondents. Compared to other specialties, medical students said that internal medicine required more paperwork and a greater breadth of knowledge, but offered a lower potential income. They also noted that internists cared for a population that was elderly or chronically ill.

While the authors said that lifestyle played a role in students’ career choices, it was less important than “the nature of patient care or educational experiences.” Surprisingly, most students said that educational debt was not a factor in their career choice.

Factors cited as being appealing about internal medicine included the intellectual challenge, the continuity of care and the competence of internal medicine residents. The study was published in the Sept. 10 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Authors recommended giving students exposure to effective care teams that would include social workers and other professionals, to allow physicians to focus on patient care. According to one projection, the U.S. will have 200,000 too few physicians by 2020.

Free team training sessions available through next summer

AN ORGANIZATION DESIGNED TO HELP health care organizations implement evidence-based teamwork programs is now offering free master trainer preparation training sessions.

The organization, TeamSTEPPS, was developed by the Department of Defense in collaboration with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). TeamSTEPPS provides ready-to-use multimedia materials and training curricula to improve teamwork skills and communication in health care settings.

Through August 2009, the organization is offering two-and-a-half day master trainer training sessions to 1,200 participants on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Individuals from certain organizations will be automatically eligible to enroll in the sessions. Those organizations include AHRQ high-reliability organization hospitals.

Providers from other hospitals and organizations may also apply, but they need to submit a statement that includes an assessment of leadership buy-in within their organization; a summary of their goals and challenges; and a brief description of the roles of team members attending the training sessions.

For more information about qualifying for training, call 877-678-3777.