Hospital charges for a community inpatient palliative care program


Hospital charges for a community inpatient palliative care program


Cowan JD


The American Journal Of Hospice & Palliative Care




Female; Humans; Male; Adult; Aged; Middle Aged; Time Factors; Hospitals; Chi-Square Distribution; Tennessee; 80 and over; Comparative Study; referral and consultation; Palliative Care/economics/organization & administration/utilization; Cost Control; Hospital Costs/statistics & numerical data; Community/economics/utilization; Hospital Charges/statistics & numerical data; Length of Stay/economics/statistics & numerical data; Patient Admission/economics; Patient Discharge/economics


Defining financial parameters of palliative care (PC) is important for providing sustainable programming. In our study, we evaluated hospital length of stay (LOS) and charges for the first 164 inpatient PC consultations performed by the Advanced Illness Assistance (AIA) team at Blount Memorial Hospital (BMH). These AIA patients had a median LOS of 11 days (range, 3-114 days), mean total charges per patient of 65,795 dollars, and mean daily charges of 3,809 dollars. Higher mean daily charges (p = 2.74 E-08, chi-square) were associated with patients who received consultation because of nonphysical symptom reasons. Patients were followed in PC consultation (AIA follow-up days) for a median of five days (range, 1-48), and had mean daily charges of 3,117 dollars. These mean daily charges were 414 dollars less than the charges for the five days prior to PC consultation (pre-AIA days) (p = 0.04, t-test). There was a significant decrease in laboratory and imaging charges during AIA follow-up (p = 0.04, t-test). The study included a reference group of patients whose information was obtained retrospectively from the BMH Atlas (MediQual, Marlborough, MA) database. These reference group patients were hospitalized at BMH during the same time, but they were not seen by the AIA team. The reference group was matched by Diagnosis Related Group (DRG), Admission Severity Grade (ASG), and disposition to the AIA patients. The Atlas patients had a shorter median LOS of six days (range, 1-105 days), and significantly greater mean daily charges of 4,105 dollars (p = 0.006, t-test) compared with AIA patients. Mean daily charges decreased for Atlas patients, as their day of discharge approached (p < 0.001). Estimates of potential charge savings were calculated in two ways: 1) by evaluating the effect of decreasing the LOS of Atlas patients with long LOS (more than seven days) to the level of AIA patients with long LOS, and 2) by comparing the actual mean patient charges during AIA follow-up with using the pre-AIA mean daily charges during the AIA follow-up period and correcting for the effect of decreasing charges that occurred as discharge approached. The estimated savings achieved by decreasing long LOS were more than 100,000 dollars per year, and estimated savings achieved using AIA follow-up charges were more than 1,801,930 dollars per year.


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Cowan JD, “Hospital charges for a community inpatient palliative care program,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed May 26, 2022,

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