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Study: End-of-life care discussions reduce costs
A study published in the March 9, 2009, issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, which revealed that patients with advanced cancer who reported talking to their physicians about their end-of-life care wishes had significantly lower health care costs in the last week of life.
"Discussions about care at the end of life result in a higher quality of life for patients — and cost the health care systeml less money. That is something that hospice and palliative care providers have long known," said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in Alexandria, VA, in a news release.
The NHPCO points out in the release that a 2007 study conducted at Duke University found hospice saves Medicare about $2,300 per beneficiary that receives hospice care.
TJC to continue as hospice deeming authority
The Joint Commission reported in early April that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has renewed its deeming authority for hospice organizations for the maximum six-year term allowed.
The six-year designation means that hospice organizations accredited by The Joint Commission will be "deemed" as meeting Medicare and Medicaid certification requirements and are eligible for Medicare reimbursement.
CMS found that The Joint Commission's standards for hospice "meet or exceed" those established for Medicare and Medicaid programs.
"The Joint Commission is pleased to once again receive this recognition of its national standards for the accreditation of hospice programs," according to Margherita Labson, RN, associated director, Home Care Accreditation Program, The Joint Commission. "This public-private partnership between CMS and The Joint Commission is a commitment to the quality of hospice services for terminally ill patients and their families."
The final notice announcing the continued recognition was published in the Federal Register on March 27. The Joint Commission has been granted deeming authority for hospice since 1999.
Established in 1988, The Joint Commission's Home Care Accreditation Program accredits more than 4,000 organizations that offer a variety of services in a patient's or client's home, according to the commission.
Article suggests ownership of EMRs must be addressed
Most people involved in health care know by now that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 creates significant funding for electronic medical information.
However, legal uncertainty about who owns the information "presents a major obstacle to integrating and using" it to improve public health and health care, according to a national commentary co-authored by a Wake Forest University and a Duke University faculty member.
The commentary appears in the March 25, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
"This impending legal issue must be addressed very soon if we are to both protect patients' interests in their medical information and ensure that new information systems are put to their best uses," said Mark A. Hall, JD, professor of law and public health sciences at Wake Forest University and co-author of the commentary.