Objectives: To validate a predictive model for identifying Medicare beneficiaries who need end-of-life care planning and to determine the impact on cost and hospice care of a telephonic counseling program utilizing this predictive model in 2 Medicare Health Support (MHS) pilots.
Study design: Secondary analysis of data from 2 MHS pilot programs that used a randomized controlled design.
Methods: A predictive model was developed using intervention group data (N = 43,497) to identify individuals at greatest risk of death. Model output guided delivery of a telephonic intervention designed to support educated end-of-life decisions and improve end-of-life provisions. Control group participants received usual care. As a primary outcome, Medicare costs in the last 6 months of life were compared between intervention group decedents (n = 3112) and control group decedents (n = 1630). Hospice admission rates and duration of hospice care were compared as secondary measures.
Results: The predictive model was highly accurate, and more than 80% of intervention group decedents were contacted during the 12 months before death. Average Medicare costs were $1913 lower for intervention group decedents compared with control group decedents in the last 6 months of life (P = .05), for a total savings of $5.95 million. There were no significant changes in hospice admissions or mean duration of hospice care.
Conclusions: Telephonic end-of-life counseling provided as an ancillary Medicare service, guided by a predictive model, can reach a majority of individuals needing support and can reduce costs by facilitating voluntary election of less intensive care.