Younger Cancer Survivors Face Greater Financial Burdens

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Zhiyuan "Jason" Zheng PhD Director, Economics and Healthcare Delivery Research American Cancer Society, Inc. Atlanta, GA 30303

Dr. Zheng

Zhiyuan “Jason” Zheng PhD
Director, Economics and Healthcare Delivery Research
American Cancer Society, Inc.
Atlanta, GA 30303

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Historically, the cost of healthcare can be a substantial burden for cancer survivors and their families in the US. Even with health insurance, a cancer diagnosis can impose significant out-of-pocket costs for medical care.  These are partially due to the rising costs of cancer treatments in recent years, moreover, the increasing levels of coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles also shift a significant portion of the burden to cancer patients.

We found that younger cancer survivors, those aged 18-49 years, bear a higher burden than their older counterparts. We also found that two-thirds of cancer survivors enrolled in high-deductible health plans did not have health savings accounts, and they are more vulnerable to financial hardship than those in high-deductible health plans with health savings accounts and those covered by low-deductible plans.

These findings are important to patients because although cancer patents have benefited from newer and more advanced treatments, financial hardship may lead to emotional distress, cause changes in health behaviors, and jeopardize treatment adherence and health outcomes. 

Continue reading

WHO: Profits Outweigh R&D Costs of New Cancer Drugs

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kiu Tay-Teo, PhD World Health Organization Geneva, Switzerland

Dr. Kiu Tay-Teo

Kiu Tay-Teo, PhD
World Health Organization
Geneva, Switzerland

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: High costs and high risks of R&D for drugs have been presented to justify high drug prices, especially for cancer drugs. However, it is unclear whether prices are in fact justifiable compared to the overall return on R&D investment.

In this paper, we systematically compared incomes from the sales of cancer drugs with the R&D costs. We quantified the incomes generated from the sales of 99 cancer drugs approved by FDA from 1989–2017. This was based on sales figures reported in the originator companies’ annual financial reports, and where necessary, estimates deduced from the reported figures. The sales incomes were net of rebates and discounts, but without accounting for expenses and taxes. For the R&D costs of bringing one new cancer drug to the market, the literature reported a typical costs of between $219 million and $2.9 billion, after accounting for the costs of failed products that were investigated but not marketed and the opportunity costs. For the main analysis, we used a median cost of $794 million, as reported in the literature. To be clear, this analysis did not estimate profit return because we do not have information about the costs and year-to-year variations in costs (i.e. expenses and taxes) specific to cancer drugs.

Continue reading

Specialty Drugs and Increase Price of Brand Names Raise Health Care Costs

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy

Dr. Hernandez

Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics
University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The objective of our study was to answer a research question of high policy relevance: to what extent are rising drug costs due to inflation in the prices of existing products versus the market entry of new, more expensive drugs.

We found that rising prices of brand-name drugs are largely driven by manufacturers increasing prices of medications that are already in the market rather than to the entry of new products.

In contrast, increases in costs of specialty and generic drugs were driven by the entry of new drugs.

Continue reading

Heart Attacks and Stroke Cause Blows to Financial Health

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Allan Garland, MD,  MA  Professor of Medicine & Community Health Sciences Co-Head, Section of Critical Care Medicine University of Manitoba

Dr. Garland

Allan GarlandMD,  MA 
Professor of Medicine & Community
Health Sciences
Co-Head, Section of Critical Care Medicine
University of Manitoba

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Heart attacks, strokes and cardiac arrest are common acute health events.  Most studies of serious acute health events look at outcomes such as death and how long is spent in the hospital.  But for working age people, the ability to work and earn income are very important outcomes that have rarely been studied.

We set out to carefully measure, across Canada, how much heart attacks, strokes and cardiac arrests affect the ability of working age people to work and earn.

Continue reading

Emergency-Only Dialysis For Undocumented Immigrants Costs More Money and Lives

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Oanh Kieu Nguyen, MD, MA Assistant Professor Division of Hospital Medicine Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital UCSF

Dr. Nguyen

Oanh Kieu Nguyen, MD, MA
Assistant Professor
Division of Hospital Medicine
Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital
UCSF

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: In U.S. citizens and permanent residents with kidney failure or end-stage renal disease (ESRD), having health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid guarantees access to regularly scheduled hemodialysis 2-3 times per week, the evidence-based standard of care for ESRD. This treatment helps people live relatively normal lives. In 40 of 50 U.S. states, undocumented immigrants with ESRD have limited access to hemodialysis because they are not eligible for any form of federal assistance including Medicare or Medicaid, and must wait until they are life-threateningly ill to receive dialysis through a hospital emergency department, a situation called “emergency-only hemodialysis.” There are an estimated 6,500 undocumented individuals in the U.S. suffering from ESRD.

A unique opportunity made it feasible for uninsured undocumented immigrants with ESRD receiving emergency-only dialysis in Dallas, Texas, to enroll in private, commercial health insurance plans in 2015 and made it possible for researchers to compare scheduled vs. emergency-only dialysis among undocumented immigrants with ESRD. This natural experiment included 181 undocumented immigrants, 105 of whom received insurance coverage and enrolled in scheduled dialysis and 76 of whom remained uninsured.  Continue reading

Use of Biosimilar Growth Factor Increases in Supportive Cancer Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Abiy Agiro, PHD HealthCore Inc Wilmington, Delaware

Dr. Agiro

Abiy Agiro, PHD
HealthCore Inc
Wilmington, Delaware 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Biosimilar approval pathway, authorized in 2010 by the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act as part of the Affordable Care Act, aims to increase adoption of biosimilar products and generate significant cost savings to payers and patients alike. Biosimilar filgrastim, used to prevent febrile neutropenia, is one of the first biosimilars to be approved in the United States. A large scale, post-approval real-world analysis was needed that compares biosimilar filgrastim to the original drug for safety and efficacy.

Continue reading

Poor Health Insurance Literacy Linked to Avoidance of Health Care Services

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Renuka Tipirneni, MD, MSc Assistant Professor Holder of the Grace H. Elta MD Department of Internal Medicine Early Career Endowment Award 2019-2024 University of Michigan Department of Internal Medicine, Divisions of General Medicine and Hospital Medicine, and Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation Ann Arbor, MI 48109Renuka Tipirneni, MD, MSc
Assistant Professor
Holder of the Grace H. Elta MD Department of Internal Medicine Early Career Endowment Award 2019-2024
University of Michigan Department of Internal Medicine
Divisions of General Medicine and Hospital Medicine, and
Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response:  Navigating health insurance and health care choices is challenging and requires significant health insurance literacy (knowledge and application of health insurance concepts). We looked at the association between U.S. adults’ health insurance literacy and avoidance of health care services due to perceived cost.

We found that 30% of people we surveyed reported delayed or foregone care because of perceived cost, and that those with lower health insurance literacy reported significantly greater avoidance of both preventive and nonpreventive health care services.

Continue reading

Cost-effectiveness of Humanitarian Pediatric Cardiac Surgery

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Marcelo G. Cardarelli, MD A member of Inova Medical Group

Dr. Cardarelli

Marcelo G. Cardarelli, MD
Inova Children’s Hospita
Fairfax, Falls Church, Virginia

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Global Humanitarian Medical efforts consume a large amount of resources (nearly $38B in 2016) and donors (Countries, International organizations, WHO, Individuals) make the decisions as to where their funds should be allocated based on cost-effectiveness studies. Most resources go to prevent/treat infectious diseases, sanitation efforts and maternal/child care issues. An insignificant amount of resources is directed to satisfy the surgical needs of the populations in low and middle income countries (LMICs).

The idea behind our project was to find out if it was cost-effective to perform a tertiary surgical specialty (pediatric cardiac surgery) in this context and the answer (at $171 per DALY averted) was an overwhelming yes!

But most importantly, we believe, as many others do, that judging the cost/effectiveness of an intervention in order to decide resources allocation is valid for diseases that can be prevented, but not relevant when it comes to surgical problems that are not preventable.

Instead, we propose the use of another measure of effectiveness, what we call “The Humanitarian Footprint”.

The Humanitarian Footprint represents the long term benefits, as measured by changes in the life expectancy, extra years of schooling and potential lifetime earnings of patients treated surgically during humanitarian interventions.

To our surprise and based on the results, the effects on society of at least this particular surgical intervention were greater than we expected. We suspect this measure can be used in many other surgical humanitarian interventions as well.  Continue reading

Untreated Hearing Loss: Higher Health Care Costs, More ER Visits and Readmissions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nicholas S. Reed, AuD Assistant Professor | Department of Otolaryngology-Head/Neck Surgery Core Faculty  | Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Nicholas Reed AuD

Nicholas S. Reed, AuD
Assistant Professor | Department of Otolaryngology-Head/Neck Surgery
Core Faculty  | Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

 

Response: This study was a true team effort. It was funded by AARP and AARP Services, INC and the research was a collaboration of representatives from Johns Hopkins University, OptumLabs, University of California – San Francisco, and AARP Services, INC. Given all of the resent research on downstream effects of hearing loss on important health outcomes such as cognitive decline, falls, and dementia, the aim was to explore how persons with hearing loss interacted with the healthcare system in terms of cost and utilization.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? 

Response: Over a 10 year period, untreated hearing loss (hearing aid users were excluded from this study as they are difficult to capture in the claims database) was associated with higher healthcare spending and utilization. Specifically, over 10 years, persons with untreated hearing loss spent 46.5% more, on average, on healthcare (to the tune of approximately $22000 more) than those without evidence of hearing loss. Furthermore, persons with untreated hearing loss had 44% and 17% higher risk for 30-day readmission and emergency department visit, respectively.

Similar relationships were seen across other measures where persons with untreated hearing loss were more likely to be hospitalized and spent longer in the hospital compared to those without evidence of hearing loss.  Continue reading

4-Meds in One Glaucoma Eyedrop May Decrease Preservatives, Lower Cost, Improve Compliance

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nathan Radcliffe, MD Senior Faculty, Ophthalmology Glaucoma and Cataract surgeon Mount Sinai Health System

Dr. Radcliffe

Nathan Radcliffe, MD
Senior Faculty, Ophthalmology Glaucoma and Cataract surgeon
Mount Sinai Health System

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness and the mainstay of therapy is to lower the intraocular pressure (IOP) with topical eye drops.

Up to 40% of patients may require more than one eye drop to control the disease, and yet taking more than one eye drop bottle can result in higher costs, more eye irritation, worse therapeutic compliance, and possibly worse outcomes, be sure to consult your eye surgeon before increasing any eye treatment to ensure it won’t do any further damage to the eye. Compounded therapies (not FDA approved, but made at the physician’s request by a compounding pharmacy) can be created to contain multiple glaucoma therapies in one bottle.

We sought to determine if a compounded solution containing three or four drops in one bottle could control glaucoma as well as three or four separate bottles (standard of care) in patients requiring three or four eye drop bottles to control glaucoma.

We performed a multi-center, randomized, observer-masked, parallel-group study comparing a compounded therapy containing latanoprost 0.05%, dorzolamide hydrochloride 2%, timolol maleate 0.5%, brimonidine tartrate 0.2% with 0.01% BAK to standard three or four bottle regaimins. We measured IOP and corneal staining (a sign of preservative toxicity), as well as other safety measures at week one, month one, two and three.

Continue reading

Even in Intensive Care, Health Care Costs Are Factor For Both Patients and Clinicians

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Deborah D. Gordon, MBA Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government Harvard Kennedy School Cambridge, Massachusetts

Deborah  Gordon

Deborah D. Gordon, MBA
Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government
Harvard Kennedy School
Cambridge, Massachusetts

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Against the backdrop of rising health care costs, and the increasing share of those costs that consumers bear, studies show people are interested in finding health care cost information and engaging with their providers on issues of cost.

We were interested in learning to what extent, if any, discussion or consideration of cost would be documented in electronic health records.

Using machine learning techniques to extract data from unstructured notes, we examined 46,146 narrative clinical notes from ICU admissions. We found that approximately 4% of admissions had at least one note with financially relevant content. That financial content included documentation of cost as a barrier to adhering to treatment prior to admission, and as a consideration in treatment and discharge planning.    Continue reading

Most Health Care Costs Associated With Osteoporotic Fractures Occur in First Year

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kandice A. Kapinos, Ph.D. Economist Professor RAND Corporation Pardee RAND Graduate School 

Dr. Kapinos

Kandice A. Kapinos, Ph.D.
Economist
Professor
RAND Corporation
Pardee RAND Graduate School 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The economic burden of osteoporotic fractures is substantial with studies estimating the annual healthcare cost burden between $10 to 17 billion. Although estimates from individual studies vary, most studies assessing costs after a fracture only explore up to twelve months following a fracture. There is little investigation of how fracture patients’ costs evolve over a longer post-fracture period.

As osteoporotic fractures are one of the most common causes of disability among older adults and can translate into greater medical costs, we focused on studying Medicare beneficiaries. In fact, previous research has suggested that most of the increase in Medicare spending over time can be explained from costs associated with treating higher risk Medicare beneficiaries.

Our objective in this study was to compare health care costs over a 3-year period of those who experienced a fracture to those who did not among a sample of Medicare beneficiaries who were at an increased risk of having a fracture.

Consistent with previous studies, we found a significant increase in expenditures in the year immediately following a fracture relative to controls: almost $14,000 higher for fractures relative to controls. However, at 2 and 3-years post-fracture, there were no significant differences in the change in expenditures between fracture cases and controls. We note that these findings may be different for beneficiaries living in skilled nursing facilities or other non-community-based settings.

Continue reading

How Much Do Clinical Trials For New Medications Really Cost?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Thomas J Moore Senior Scientist Institute for Safe Medication Practices Lecturer, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics The George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health Alexandria, VA 22314

Thomas J Moore

Thomas J Moore AB
Senior Scientist Institute for Safe Medication Practices
Lecturer, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
The George Washington University
Milken Institute of Public Health
Alexandria, VA 22314

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

  • The study provides realistic cost estimates of pivotal clinical trials that establish drug benefits to support FDA approval of 59 new drugs released for marketing in 2015-2016.
  • The median estimated cost was just $19 million, with half of the 138 trials studied clustered between $12 million and $33 million.
  • The highest cost trials–with estimates up to $345 million–were for new drugs that were similar to drugs already available and already proven in treating serious illnesses. 

Continue reading

Robotic Surgery More Expensive But May Not Have Better Outcomes Than Traditional Surgery

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
A robotically assisted surgical system: WikipediaChris Childers, M.D.

Division of General Surgery
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
10833 Le Conte Ave., CHS 72-247
Los Angeles, CA 90095

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The robotic surgical approach has gained significant traction in the U.S. market despite mixed opinions regarding its clinical benefit. A few recent randomized trials have suggested there may be no clinical benefit of the robotic approach for some surgical procedures over the more traditional open or laparoscopic (“minimally-invasive”) approaches.

Previous studies have also suggested the robotic approach is very expensive, but until our study, there was no benchmark for the true costs (to the hospital) of using the robotic platform.

Our study analyzed financial statements from the main supplier of robotic technology. We found that the use of robotic surgery has increased exponentially over the past decade from approximately 136 thousand procedures in 2008 to 877 thousand procedures in 2017. The majority of these procedures were performed in the United States. While most people think of the robotic approach in urologic and perhaps gynecologic surgery, the fastest growing segment has been general surgery, for procedures such as colorectal resections, hernia repairs and gallbladder removals. In total, over 3 billion dollars was spent by hospitals to acquire and use robotic platforms in 2017 with 2.3 billion dollars in the United States. This equates to nearly $3,600 per procedure performed.

Continue reading

Lay Health Workers Reduce Costs and Improve Cancer Patients’ Satisfaction

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Manali Patel MD MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine, Oncology Stanford Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System 

Dr. Patel

Manali Patel MD MPH
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Oncology
Stanford
Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System  

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: In prior work, many patients with advanced stages of cancer report a lack of understanding of their prognosis and receipt of care that differs from their preferences.

These gaps in care delivery along with the unsustainable rise in healthcare spending at the end-of-life and professional healthcare provider shortages led our team to consider new ways to deliver cancer care for patients.  Based on input from focus groups with patients, caregivers, oncology care providers and healthcare payers, we designed a novel model of cancer care to address these gaps in care delivery.  The intervention consisted of a well-trained lay health worker to assist patients with understanding and communicating their goals of care with their oncology providers and caregivers.

We found that patients who received the six-month intervention reported greater satisfaction with the care they received and their decision-making, had higher rates of hospice use, lower acute care use, and 95% lower total healthcare expenditures in the last month of life.  The intervention resulted in nearly $3 million dollars in healthcare savings.

Continue reading

Defensive Medicine is Real and Raises Health Care Costs

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jonathan Gruber PhD
Department of Economics, E52-434
MIT
Cambridge, MA 02139

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: There is a large literature trying to estimate the extent of ‘defensive  medicine’ by looking at what happens when it gets harder to sue and/or  you can win less money. But there have been no studies of what happens if you just get rid of the right to sue.  That’s what we have with active duty patients treated on a military base.

The main finding is that when patients can’t sue they are treated about  5% less intensively.  Much of the effect appears to arise from fewer diagnostic tests.

Continue reading

With Aging Comes Increasing Cost of Life-Extending Medications

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jonathan H. Watanabe, PharmD, PhD, BCGP Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy National Academy of Medicine Anniversary Fellow in Pharmacy Division of Clinical Pharmacy | Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences | University of California San Diego La Jolla, CA 

Jonathan H. Watanabe, PharmD, PhD, BCGP
Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy
National Academy of Medicine Anniversary Fellow in Pharmacy
Division of Clinical Pharmacy | Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences | University of California San Diego
La Jolla, CA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: As a clinician in older adult care and as a health economist, I’ve been following the news and research studies on older patients unable to pay for their medications and consequently not getting the treatment they require. Our goal was to measure how spending on the medications Part D spends the most on, has been increasing over time and to figure out what prices patients are facing out-of-pocket to get these medications.

In 2015 US dollars, Medicare Part D spent on the ten highest spend medications increased from $21.5 billion in 2011 to $28.4 billion in 2015.  The number of patients that received one of the ten highest spend medications dropped from 12,913,003 in 2011 to 8,818,471— a 32% drop in that period.

A trend of spending more tax dollars on fewer patients already presents societal challenges, but more troubling is that older adults are spending much more of their own money out-of-pocket on these medications.  For patients without a federal low income subsidy, the average out-of-pocket cost share for one of the ten highest spend medications increased from $375 in 2011 to $1,366 in 2015.  This represented a 264% increase and an average 66% increase per year.  For patients receiving the low income subsidy, the average out-of-pocket cost share grew from $29 in 2011 to $44 in 2015 an increase of 51% and an average increase of 12.7% per year.  This may not sound like much, but for those living close to the federal poverty level this can be the difference between foregoing necessities to afford your medications or choosing not to take your medications.   Continue reading

Voluntary Bundled Payment Program For Care After Acute Hospitalization Unable to Achieve Broad Participation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

A Jay Holmgren Doctoral Student, Health Policy and Management Harvard Business School

A Jay Holmgren

A Jay Holmgren
Doctoral Student, Health Policy and Management
Harvard Business School

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Post-acute care, care that is delivered following an acute care hospitalization, is one of the largest drivers of variation in US health care spending.

To address this, Medicare has created several payment reform systems targeting post-acute care, including a voluntary bundled payment program known as the Model 3 of the Bundled Payment for Care Improvement (BPCI) Initiative for post-acute care providers such as skilled nursing facilities, long-term care hospitals, or inpatient rehabilitation facilities. Participants are given a target price for an episode of care which is then reconciled against actual spending; providers who spend under the target price retain some of the savings, while those who spend more must reimburse Medicare for some of the difference.

Our study sought to evaluate the level of participation in this program and identify what providers were more likely to participate. We found that fewer than 4% of eligible post-acute care providers ever participated in the program, and over 40% of those who did participate dropped out. The providers more likely to remain in the program were skilled nursing facilities that were higher quality, for-profit, and were part of a multi-facility organization.

Continue reading

Study Compares Hospitals Enrolled in Medicare’s Voluntary vs Mandatory Bundled Payment Programs

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Amol Navathe, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Medicine Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Navathe

Amol Navathe, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Bundled payment is a key Medicare Alternative Payment Model (APM) developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to increase health care value by holding health care organizations accountable for spending across an episode of care. The model provides financial incentives to maintain quality and contain spending below a predefined benchmark.

In 2013, CMS launched the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) initiative to expand bundled payment nationwide. BPCI’s bundled payment design formed the basis for CMS’s Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) Model beginning in 2016. While the programs are similar in design, BPCI is voluntary while CJR is mandatory for hospitals in selected markets. Moreover, CJR is narrower in scope, focusing only on lower extremity joint replacement (LEJR) and limiting participation to hospitals.

Continue reading

Rate of End-of-Life Medicare Spending Falls

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

William B Weeks, MD, PhD, MBA The Dartmouth Institute

Dr. Weeks

William B Weeks, MD, PhD, MBA
The Dartmouth Institute

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The background for the study is that a common narrative is that end-of-life healthcare costs are driving overall healthcare cost growth.  Growth in end-of-life care has been shown, in research studies through the mid 2000’s, to be attributable to increasing intensity of care at the end-of-life (i.e., more hospitalizations and more use of ICUs).

The main findings of our study are that indeed there have been substantial increases in per-capita end-of-life care costs within the Medicare fee-for-service population between 2004-2009, but those per-capita costs dropped pretty substantially between 2009-2014.  Further, the drop in per-capita costs attributable to Medicare patients who died (and were, therefore, at the end-of-life) accounts for much of the mitigation in cost growth that has been found since 2009 in the overall Medicare fee-for-service population.

Continue reading

Palliative Care of Sickest Patients Improves Quality of Life, But Does it Save Money?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

R. Sean Morrison, MD Ellen and Howard C. Katz Professor and Chair Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY 10029

Dr. Morrison

R. Sean Morrison, MD
Ellen and Howard C. Katz Professor and Chair
Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York, NY 10029

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Palliative care is team based care that is focused on improving quality of life and reducing suffering for persons with serious illness and their families.  It can be provided at any age and in concert with all other appropriate medical treatments.  Palliative care has been shown to improve patient quality of life, patient and family satisfaction, and in diseases like cancer and heart failure, improve survival.  A number of individual studies have shown that palliative care can reduce costs by providing the right care to the right people at the right time.

This study pooled data from six existing studies to quantify the magnitude of savings that high quality palliative care provides.
Continue reading

Increased Hospital Spending After Heart Attack Linked To Modestly Lower Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Rishi K. Wadhera MD
Clinical Fellow in Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Response: The Hospital Value Based Purchasing program, in which over 3,000 hospitals participate, is a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) pay-for-performance program that links hospital fee per service reimbursement to performance, through measures like 30-day mortality rates after an acute myocardial infarction (a heart attack), and other measures such as average spending for an episode of care for Medicare beneficiaries. Hospitals that perform poorly on these measures are financially penalized by CMS.

Continue reading

Labor Costs Account For Largest Percentage of Operating Room Expenses

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Chris Childers, M.D.  Division of General Surgery David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Los Angeles, CA 90095

Dr. Childers

Dr. Chris Childers, M.D.
Division of General Surgery
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Los Angeles, CA 90095

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Over 20 million Americans undergo a surgical procedure each year with a price tag over $1 trillion.  The operating room (OR) is a particularly resource dense environment, yet little is known about the actual costs of running an OR.  Most previous efforts focusing on OR costs have come from single-site studies with little detail about the drivers of OR costs.

Using financial statements from all California hospitals we estimated that the average cost to the hospital for one minute of OR time was between $36 and $37. Perhaps more notable was the composition of these costs.  Almost two-thirds ($20-21) was attributable to “direct costs” – those generated by the OR itself – including $14 for the wages and benefits of staff, $2.50-3.50 for surgical supplies, and $3 for “other” costs such as equipment repair and depreciation. Interestingly, the remainder ($14-16) was dedicated to “indirect costs” such as the costs associated with hospital security and parking.  While these indirect costs are necessary for a hospital to run, they are not under the purview of the operating room.

Finally, we also learned that OR costs have increased quickly over the past 10 years – faster than other sectors of healthcare as well as the rest of the economy. Continue reading

Standardization and Collaboration Reduced Use of Costly CRRT Treatment for Critically Ill Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rodrigo F. Alban, MD FACS Associate Director Performance Improvement Associate Residency Program Director NSQIP Surgeon Champion Department of Surgery Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Dr. Alban

Rodrigo F. Alban, MD FACS
Associate Director Performance Improvement
Associate Residency Program Director
NSQIP Surgeon Champion
Department of Surgery
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT) is a modality of hemodialysis commonly used to manage renal failure in critically ill patients who have significant hemodynamic compromise.  However, it is also resource-intensive and costly and its usage is highly variable and lacks standardization.

Our institution organized a multidisciplinary task force to target high value care in critically ill patients requiring CRRT by standardizing its process flow, promoting cross-disciplinary discussions with patients and family members, and increasing visibility/awareness of CRRT use.  After our interventions, the mean duration of CRRT decreased by 11.3% from 7.43 to 6.59 days per patient.  We also saw a 9.8% decrease in the mean direct cost of CRRT from $11642 to $10506 per patient.  Finally, we also saw a decrease in the proportion of patients expiring on CRRT, and an increase in the proportion of patients transitioning to comfort care.

Continue reading

Patients With Multiple Chronic Diseases Incur High Out-of-Pocket Expenses

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Grace Sum Chi-En National University of Singapore

Dr Grace Sum    Chi-En

Dr Grace Sum Chi-En
National University of Singapore

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Chronic diseases are conditions that are not infectious and are usually long-term, such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, chronic lung disease, asthma, arthritis, stroke, obesity, and depression. They are also known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Multimorbidity, is a term we use in our field, to mean the presence of two or more NCDs. Multimorbidity is a costly and complex challenge for health systems globally. With the ageing population, more people in the world will suffer from multiple chronic diseases.

Patients with multimorbidity tend to need many medicines, and this incurs high levels of out-of-pocket expenditures, simply known as cost not covered by insurance. Even the United Nations and World Health organisation are recognising NCDs as being an important issue.

Governments will meet in New York for the United Nations 3rd high-level meeting on chronic diseases in 2018. Global leaders need to work towards reducing the burden of having multiple chronic conditions and providing financial protection to those suffering multimorbidity.

Our research aimed to conduct a high-quality systematic review on multimorbidity and out-of-pocket expenditure on medicines.  Continue reading