Palliative care trims costs

By Sheryl Kay • Published: January 22nd, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

With health care costs on the rise, here is some encouraging news about the value of palliative care.

Researchers say by using palliative care consultation teams to comfort patients with incurable conditions, hospitals save money.

A recent study by scientists at the Center to Advance Palliative Care and the National Palliative Care Research Center showed that by using teams that specialize in providing care centered on relieving the pain and other symptoms of patients with serious illnesses, hospitals saved up to three-hundred-seventy-four-dollars every day.

Researchers examined records of forty-eight-thousand patients from eight hospitals with established palliative care programs for the years 2002 through 2004.

By analyzing admissions costs and the daily hospital costs of patients who received palliative care versus those who did not, the researchers found hospitals saved two-hundred-seventy-nine-dollars to three-hundred-seventy-four dollars per day on patients in palliative care programs and about seventeen-hundred to forty-nine-hundred-dollars in admissions costs.

These savings translate to more than one-point-three-million for a three-hundred-bed community hospital and more than two-point-five-million for the average academic medical center, according to the Archives of Internal Medicine.

So where did the savings come from?

The researchers concluded that by providing the palliative care upfront, hospitals were able to recognize significant savings in pharmacy, laboratory and intensive care unit costs.

Apparently, the detailed communication between patients, families and health-care providers about the goals and treatment strategies in palliative care programs makes a real difference in terms of dollars and cents.

Call it a kinder, gentler savings.