Palliative care in a hospital setting rose 30 fold among multiple sclerosis (MS) patients in the U.S. from 2005 to 2014, and was associated with longer hospital stays and greater numbers of in-hospital deaths but also lower overall costs, according to a large data study.
Increased reliance on such care was particularly evident after 2010 and partly attributed to passage of the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare reform package signed into law in March of that year.
The research, “Ten-year trends of palliative care utilization associated with multiple sclerosis patients in the United States from 2005 to 2014,” was published in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience.
Palliative care puts emphasis on the prevention and relief of suffering with the goal of improving the quality of life of patients, and their families, who are dealing with an incurable or life-threatening illness.
Increasing evidence links the early introduction of palliative care with better clinical and public health outcomes, including shorter lengths of time in a hospital, lower in-hospital death rates, and lower hospital charges. In the U.S., health policy for palliative care has been mainly focused on cancer patients. Data shows that cancer patients given palliative care early in their disease course live longer than those who are not, even with less aggressive end-of-life treatment, the study noted.
In addition to research findings, the efficiency of palliative is supported Medicare data that’s included in the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) program, part of the Affordable Care Act, officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Researchers in the U.S. and the Republic of Korea decided to examine palliative care among MS patients. They obtained a population-based estimate of national 10-year care trends among hospitalized MS patients, using a federal database known as the National Inpatient Sample (NIS).The NIS is the largest publicly available all-payer inpatient database in the U.S., with data on more than 7 million hospital inpatient stays each year.
With data covering 2005 to 2014, they looked at patient and clinical characteristics associated with palliative care to determine how this care impacted hospital utilization and costs for people with MS.
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