Background: There is a growing need for palliative care services located outside of hospitals.
Objective: This study's objective was to evaluate a home-based, nonhospice, palliative medicine (PM) consultation practice within a fee-for-service environment.
Method: Hospital and emergency department (ED) utilization and cost data obtained from administrative records were analyzed with longitudinal analyses to compare use 18 months before and after service enrollment in a single patient group.
Participants: Patients (N=369) with advanced complex illness (ACI) referred for home-based palliative consultation participated in the study.
Intervention: Consultation conducted by nurse practitioners included a multidimensional assessment with recommendations to outpatient physicians for symptom management and guidance to patient and family for goals of treatment and advanced care planning (ACP). Nurse practitioners were supported by a collaborating PM physician. Follow-up visits varied by need for symptom management and ACP.
Results: Total hospitalizations, total hospital days, total and variable costs, and probability of a 30-day readmission were significantly reduced in the 18-month period following program enrollment. However, probability of an ED visit was not reduced.
Conclusions: While requiring replication with rigorous methods, preliminary results suggest a home-based PM practice may reduce hospital utilization for ACI patients.