OBJECTIVES: The current evidence base regarding the effectiveness of home-based palliative care (HomePal) on outcomes of importance to multiple stakeholders remains limited. The purpose of this study was to compare end-of-life care in decedents who received HomePal with two cohorts that either received hospice only (HO) or did not receive HomePal or hospice (No HomePal-HO).
DESIGN: Retrospective cohorts from an ongoing study of care transition from hospital to home. Data were collected from 2011 to 2016.
SETTING: Kaiser Permanente Southern California.
PARTICIPANTS: Decedents 65 and older who received HomePal (n = 7177) after a hospitalization and two comparison cohorts (HO only = 25 102; No HomePal-HO = 22 472).
MEASUREMENTS: Utilization data were extracted from administrative, clinical, and claims databases, and death data were obtained from state and national indices. Days at home was calculated as days not spent in the hospital or in a skilled nursing facility (SNF).
RESULTS: Patients who received HomePal were enrolled for a median of 43 days and had comparable length of stay on hospice as patients who enrolled only in hospice (median days = 13 vs 12). Deaths at home were comparable between HomePal and HO (59% vs 60%) and were higher compared with No HomePal-HO (16%). For patients who survived at least 6 months after HomePal admission (n = 2289), the mean number of days at home in the last 6 months of life was 163 ± 30 vs 161 ± 30 (HO) vs 149 ± 40 (No HomePal-HO). Similar trends were also noted for the last 30 days of life, 25 ± 8 (HomePal, n = 5516), 24 ± 8 (HO), and 18 ± 11 (No HomePal-HO); HomePal patients had a significantly lower risk of hospitalizations (relative risk [RR] = .58-.87) and SNF stays (RR = .32-.77) compared with both HO and No HomePal-HO patients.
CONCLUSION: Earlier comprehensive palliative care in patients’ home in place of or preceding hospice is associated with fewer hospitalizations and SNF stays and more time at home in the final 6 months of life.