Hospice Capacity to Provide General Inpatient Care: Emergency Department Utilization and Live Discharge Among Cancer Patients

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2023 Apr 23;10499091231170598. doi: 10.1177/10499091231170598. Online ahead of print.


General inpatient (GIP) hospice care is used only minimally for hospice patients, and more than a quarter of Medicare hospice facilities do not provide GIP care. To determine the impact of hospices' capacity to provide on emergency department use during hospice enrollment and live discharge from hospice, we used Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare linked data and CMS Provider of Services data from 2007 to 2013 from ten states and two metropolitan regions. Grouping hospices into three GIP care provision categories: 1) no-GIP; 2) GIP-contract; and 3) GIP-IHF where hospices directly provide GIP care in their own inpatient hospice facility (IHF), we built a multilevel logistic model that accounted for unobserved hospice characteristics. Nearly 9% of the study sample received GIP care, of which 82% received such care in the last week of discharge. GIP-IHF hospices had lower live discharge rates than no-GIP hospices (AOR: .61; 95% CI: .47-.79; P < .001) and GIP-contract hospices (AOR: .84; 95% CI: .70-1.00; P < .05). Similarly, GIP-contract hospices were also associated with a decreased risk of live discharge, compared to no-GIP hospices (AOR: .76; CI: .62-.92; P < .05). There was no difference in emergency department use between no-GIP hospices and hospices with such capacity. Our results suggest that hospices capable of providing GIP care have lower live discharge rates than their counterparts. However, the fact that GIP care tends to be provided too close to death limits its effectiveness in preventing avoidable emergency department use.

Keywords: access/demand/utilization of services; administrative data uses; aging/elderly/geriatrics; medicare hospice benefit; multi-level modeling.