Challenges to Contain Costs and Standardize End-of-Life Care

With an aging baby boomer population and resulting increase in Medicare beneficiaries, one area of care that is receiving more scrutiny in the healthcare market is hospice and end-of-life care.   In a study recently released by the Dartmouth Atlas Project, it was shown that from 2007 to 2010, chronically ill Medicare patients suffered fewer deaths in the hospital; spent fewer days in the hospital; and, reduced the number of physician visits.  Despite improvements in care for end-of-life patients, the report also found that the cost of care for these patients in the last two years of life increased from $60,694 to almost $70,000 during the same time frame, an increase that outstrips the rise in the consumer price index (15.2%, compared to only 5.3%).   The report also observed a continued lack of standardization in growth of end-of-life care improvement across entities.  

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