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Aug 24, 2018

On this weeks podcast, we interview Dr. Joan Teno about her recently published study in JAMA titled "Site of Death, Place of Care, and Health Care Transitions Among US Medicare Beneficiaries, 2000-2015." In 2013, Dr. Teno published a study that showed how good our health care system in the US promotes patient churn. Despite positive signs of more hospice use and decreased deaths in the hospital, Dr. Teno found the from 2000 to 2009 we "churned" patients through more ICU visits, more hospitalizations, and more late transitions that are burdensome to dying persons in their family. Dr. Teno's latest study shows us how we are doing now, extending that work to 2015 and now including Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. So what did she find? Well here is a summary quote from Dr. Teno of the good news: "So, we see a continued decline in people dying in acute care hospital. Increase gross of hospice to nearly half the decedents. And what got me excited about these findings was we saw burdensome patterns of care decreasing. So, people who spent less than three days of hospice decreased from 14.2% in 2009 to 10.8%. People having three or more hospitalizations the last 90 days in life decreased from 11.5 to 7.1. The other thing is transitions between a nursing home and hospital and hospital nursing home nearly had a 50% reduction." And here is the bad news (depending on how you look at it): "So if you just take a look at that, it looks like we're heading in the right direction. One thing that we didn't see a budge in was, the use of ICU in the last 30 days of life. Now, is the glass half empty or is the glass half full? I have to admit I was pretty excited that ICUs wasn't going up." But there is so much more to summarize, including the difference between traditional Medicare fee-for-service and Medicare Advantage plans that you should just listen to the whole podcast as Dr. Teno is always someone I learn a ton from. Also, for more on this subject, check out our past podcast with Shi-Yi Wang, Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health at Yale, on her JAGS paper: "End-of-Life Transition Patterns of Medicare Beneficiaries."