Early in-patient palliative care consultation saves costs

The Lancet Oncology

With an ageing population and expensive anticancer treatments becoming the standard of care, the cost of oncology care is increasing rapidly. However, a new study has shown that early in-patient palliative care consultation—with its focus on symptom management, psychosocial support, and advanced care planning—has the added benefit of substantial cost savings for hospitals.

May and colleagues investigated hospital stay costs in 969 adult patients admitted to hospital with advanced malignancy, of whom 256 (26%) had a palliative care consultation organised by their attending physician, while 713 (74%) received usual care. Their analysis took into account time to consultation: 197 (77%) of 256 had their first consultation within 2 days of admission, and 231 (90%) of 256 within 6 days.

Strikingly, this small difference in time to consultation seemed to have a major effect on the monetary cost of care. Compared with no intervention, mean hospital cost savings (standardised to 2011 values) were US$2280 (95% CI 1122–3438; p<0·001) for the group receiving their first in-patient palliative care contact within 2 days and $1312 (56–2568; p=0·04) for those receiving this contact within 6 days. These savings represent a relative cost reduction of 24% (within 2 days) and 14% (within 6 days). Secondary analyses show that these savings are mediated mostly by reduced use of intensive care services and reduced pharmaceutical and laboratory costs.

Read the full article via Early in-patient palliative care consultation saves costs.

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