Cost savings from palliative care teams and guidance for a financially viable palliative care program

Health Serv Res. 2015 Feb;50(1):217-36. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.12203. Epub 2014 Jul 15.


Objectives: To quantify the cost savings of palliative care (PC) and identify differences in savings according to team structure, patient diagnosis, and timing of consult.

Data sources: Hospital administrative records on all inpatient stays at five hospital campuses from January 2009 through June 2012.

Study design: The analysis matched PC patients to non-PC patients (separately by discharge status) using propensity score methods. Weighted generalized linear model regressions of hospital costs were estimated for the matched groups.

Data collection: Data were restricted to patients at least 18 years old with inpatient stays of between 7 and 30 days. Variables available included patient demographics, primary and secondary diagnoses, hospital costs incurred for the inpatient stay, and when/if the patient had a PC consult.

Principal findings: We found overall cost savings from PC of $3,426 per patient for those dying in the hospital. No significant cost savings were found for patients discharged alive; however, significant cost savings for patients discharged alive could be achieved for certain diagnoses, PC team structures, or if consults occurred within 10 days of admission.

Conclusions: Appropriately selected and timed PC consults with physician and RN involvement can help ensure a financially viable PC program via cost savings to the hospital.

Keywords: Palliative care; hospital cost savings.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cost Savings*
  • Female
  • Hospital Costs
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / economics*
  • Patient Care Team / economics*
  • Patient Discharge
  • Propensity Score
  • United States