Benefits of Earlier Palliative Care


Offering palliative care early to hospitalized patients with multiple serious conditions could improve care and help reduce healthcare spending, according to “Palliative Care Teams’ Cost-Saving Effect Is Larger for Cancer Patients with Higher Numbers of Comorbidities,” published in Health Affairs. When adults with advanced cancer (excluding those with dementia) received a palliative care consultation within two days of admission, costs were 22% lower for patients with a comorbidity score of 2 to 3 and 32% lower for those with a score of 4 or higher.


  1. May P, Garrido MM, Cassel JB, et al. Palliative care teams’ cost-saving effect is larger for cancer patients with higher numbers of comorbidities. Health Aff. 2016;35(1):44-53.

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Efforts to shift provider payment from fee-for-service to more risk-based alternatives are proceeding slowly: Nearly 95% of all 2013 physician office visits were reimbursed as fee-for-service.


  1. Zuvekas SH, Cohen JW. Fee-for-service, while much maligned, remains the dominant payment method for physician visits. Health Aff. 2016;35(3):411-414. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2015.1291.

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