PURPOSE: This study evaluates whether an intervention to identify Canadian patients eligible for a palliative approach changes the use of health care resources and costs within the final month of life.
METHODS: Between 2014 and 2017, physicians identified 1,187 patients in family practice units and cancer centers who were likely to die within 1 year based on diagnosis, symptom assessment, and performance status. A multidisciplinary intervention that included activation of community resources and initiation of palliative planning was started. By using propensity-score matching, patients in the intervention group were matched 1:1 with nonintervention controls selected from provincial administrative data. We compared health care use and costs (using 2017 Canadian dollars) for 30 days before death between patients who died within the 1-year follow-up and matched controls.
RESULTS: Groups (n = 629 in each group) were well-balanced in sociodemographic characteristics, comorbidities, and previous health care use. In the last 30 days, there was no differences in proportions between the two groups of patients regarding emergency department visits, intensive care unit admissions, or inpatient hospitalizations. However, patients in the intervention group had greater use of palliative physician encounters, community home care visits, and/or physician home visits (92.8% v 88.4%; P = .007). In the 507 pairs with cancer, more patients in the intervention group underwent chemotherapy (44% v 33%; P < .001) and radiation (18.7% v 3.2%; P = .043) in the last 30 days. Mean cost per patient was similar for the intervention group (mean, $17,231; 95% CI, $16,027 to $18,436) and for the control group (mean, $16,951; 95% CI, $15,899 to $18,004).
CONCLUSION: Even with the limitations in our observational study design, identification of palliative patients did not significantly change overall costs but may shift resources toward palliative services.
PURPOSE: end-of-life (EOL) cancer care is costly, with challenges regarding intensity and place of care. We described EOL care and costs for patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) in the United States and the province of Ontario, Canada, to inform better care delivery.
METHODS: Patients diagnosed with CRC from 2007 to 2013, who died of any cancer from 2007 to 2013 at age = 66 years, were selected from the US SEER cancer registries linked to Medicare claims (n = 16,565) and the Ontario Cancer Registry linked to administrative health data (n = 6,587). We estimated total and resource-specific costs (2015 US dollars) from public payer perspectives over the last 360 days of life by 30-day periods, by stage at diagnosis (0-II, III, IV).
RESULTS: In all months, especially 30 days before death, higher percentages of SEER-Medicare than Ontario patients received chemotherapy (15.7% v 8.0%), and imaging tests (39.4% v 31.1%). A higher percentage of Ontario patients were hospitalized (62.5% v 51.0%), but 43.2% of hospitalized SEER-Medicare patients had intensive care unit (ICU) admissions versus 17.9% of hospitalized Ontario patients. Cost differences between cohorts were greater for patients with stage IV disease. In the last 30 days, mean total costs for patients with stage IV disease were $15,881 (SEER-Medicare) and $12,034 (Ontario) versus $19,354 and $17,312 for stage 0-II. Hospitalization costs were higher for SEER-Medicare patients ($11,180 v $9,434), with lower daily hospital costs in Ontario ($1,067 v $2,004).
CONCLUSION: These findings suggest opportunities for reducing chemotherapy and ICU use in the United States and hospitalizations in Ontario.