Association of Health Care Journalists — Hospice use is a common indicator of quality end-of-life care. The timing of hospice enrollment is an important component of that care, and a recent study finds wide variations among states.
Researchers from Yale University compared 2011 hospice use data on a state-by-state basis of 660,000 Medicare patients during the last six months of their lives. They identified several key trends among states in the rates of very short or very long hospice stays (reflecting late or early enrollment) and of patients leaving hospice before their deaths.
The goal was to identify less-optimal patterns of use and improve overall hospice care. Hospice provisions were recently added to the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act), which as means to eventually improve outcomes, mandates reporting of standardized patient assessment data for quality measures, resource use and care coordination.