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      Association of Hospice Profit Status With Family Caregivers’ Reported Care Experiences

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          Expansive growth in the US hospice market has been driven almost exclusively by an increase in for-profit hospices. Prior research found that, in contrast to not-for-profit hospices, for-profit hospices focus on delivering care to patients in nursing homes, provide fewer nursing visits, and use less skilled staff. However, prior studies have not reported on the associations of these differences in care patterns with hospice care quality. Patient- and family-centeredness is a core element of hospice care quality that is measured through surveys of care experiences.


          To examine whether differences in profit status are associated with family caregivers’ reports of hospice care experiences and assess factors that may be associated with observed differences in care experiences by profit status.

          Design, Setting, and Participants

          Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Hospice Survey data from 653 208 caregiver respondents, reflecting care received from 3107 hospices between April 2017 and March 2019, were used for a cross-sectional examination of hospice care experiences by profit status. Data analysis was performed from January 2020 to November 2022.

          Main Outcomes and Measures

          Outcomes were case-mix–adjusted and mode-adjusted top-box scores for 8 measures of hospice care experiences, including communication, timely care, symptom management, and emotional and religious support, as well as a summary score averaging across measures. Linear regression examined the association between profit status and hospice-level scores, adjusting for other organizational and structural hospice characteristics.


          There were 906 not-for-profit and 1761 for-profit hospices with mean (SD) time in operation of 25.7 (7.8) years and 13.8 (8.0) years, respectively. Mean (SD) decedent age at death was 82.8 (2.3) years, similar for not-for-profit and for-profit hospices. The mean proportion of patients who were Black, Hispanic, and White was 4.9%, 0.9%, and 91.4% for not-for-profit hospices and 9.0%, 2.2%, and 85.4% for for-profit hospices, respectively. Family caregivers reported worse care experiences at for-profit hospices than at not-for-profit hospices for all measures. Significant differences in average hospice performance by profit status remained after adjusting for hospice characteristics. However, for-profit hospice performance varied, with 548 of 1761 (31.1%) for-profit hospices scoring 3 or more points below the national hospice average of overall performance and 386 of 1761 (21.9%) scoring 3 or more points above the average. In contrast, only 113 of 906 (12.5%) not-for-profit hospices scored 3 or more points below the average, and 305 of 906 (33.7%) scored 3 or more points above the average.

          Conclusions and Relevance

          In this cross-sectional study of CAHPS Hospice Survey data, caregivers of patients receiving hospice care reported substantially worse care experiences in for-profit than in not-for-profit hospices; however, there was variation in reported experiences among both types of hospices. Public reporting of hospice quality is important.

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          Most cited references33

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          Associations between end-of-life discussions, patient mental health, medical care near death, and caregiver bereavement adjustment.

          Talking about death can be difficult. Without evidence that end-of-life discussions improve patient outcomes, physicians must balance their desire to honor patient autonomy against a concern of inflicting psychological harm. To determine whether end-of-life discussions with physicians are associated with fewer aggressive interventions. A US multisite, prospective, longitudinal cohort study of patients with advanced cancer and their informal caregivers (n = 332 dyads), September 2002-February 2008. Patients were followed up from enrollment to death, a median of 4.4 months later. Bereaved caregivers' psychiatric illness and quality of life was assessed a median of 6.5 months later. Aggressive medical care (eg, ventilation, resuscitation) and hospice in the final week of life. Secondary outcomes included patients' mental health and caregivers' bereavement adjustment. One hundred twenty-three of 332 (37.0%) patients reported having end-of-life discussions before baseline. Such discussions were not associated with higher rates of major depressive disorder (8.3% vs 5.8%; adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.33; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.54-3.32), or more worry (mean McGill score, 6.5 vs 7.0; P = .19). After propensity-score weighted adjustment, end-of-life discussions were associated with lower rates of ventilation (1.6% vs 11.0%; adjusted OR, 0.26; 95% CI, 0.08-0.83), resuscitation (0.8% vs 6.7%; adjusted OR, 0.16; 95% CI, 0.03-0.80), ICU admission (4.1% vs 12.4%; adjusted OR, 0.35; 95% CI, 0.14-0.90), and earlier hospice enrollment (65.6% vs 44.5%; adjusted OR, 1.65;95% CI, 1.04-2.63). In adjusted analyses, more aggressive medical care was associated with worse patient quality of life (6.4 vs 4.6; F = 3.61, P = .01) and higher risk of major depressive disorder in bereaved caregivers (adjusted OR, 3.37; 95% CI, 1.12-10.13), whereas longer hospice stays were associated with better patient quality of life (mean score, 5.6 vs 6.9; F = 3.70, P = .01). Better patient quality of life was associated with better caregiver quality of life at follow-up (beta = .20; P = .001). End-of-life discussions are associated with less aggressive medical care near death and earlier hospice referrals. Aggressive care is associated with worse patient quality of life and worse bereavement adjustment.
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            Patients' perception of hospital care in the United States.

            Patients' perceptions of their care, especially in the hospital setting, are not well known. Data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey provide a portrait of patients' experiences in U.S. hospitals. We assessed the performance of hospitals across multiple domains of patients' experiences. We examined whether key characteristics of hospitals that are thought to enhance patients' experiences (i.e., a high ratio of nurses to patient-days, for-profit status, and nonacademic status) were associated with a better experience for patients. We also examined whether a hospital's performance on the HCAHPS survey was related to its performance on indicators of the quality of clinical care. We found moderately high levels of satisfaction with care (e.g., on average, 67.4% of a hospital's patients said that they would definitely recommend the hospital), with a high degree of correlation among the measures of patients' experiences (Cronbach's alpha, 0.94). As compared with hospitals in the bottom quartile of the ratio of nurses to patient-days, those in the top quartile had a somewhat better performance on the HCAHPS survey (e.g., 63.5% vs. 70.2% of patients responded that they "would definitely recommend" the hospital; P<0.001). Hospitals with a high level of patient satisfaction provided clinical care that was somewhat higher in quality for all conditions examined. For example, those in the top quartile of HCAHPS ratings performed better than those in the bottom quartile with respect to the care that patients received for acute myocardial infarction (actions taken to provide appropriate care as a proportion of all opportunities for providing such actions, 95.8% vs. 93.1% in unadjusted analyses; P<0.001) and for pneumonia (90.5% vs. 88.6% in unadjusted analyses, P<0.001). This portrait of patients' experiences in U.S. hospitals offers insights into areas that need improvement, suggests that the same characteristics of hospitals that lead to high nurse-staffing levels may be associated with better experiences for patients, and offers evidence that hospitals can provide both a high quality of clinical care and a good experience for the patient. 2008 Massachusetts Medical Society
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              Care in U.S. hospitals--the Hospital Quality Alliance program.

              The Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA) is the first initiative that routinely reports data on hospitals' performance nationally. Heretofore, such data have been unavailable. We used data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on 10 indicators of the quality of care for acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, and pneumonia. The main outcome measures were hospitals' performance with respect to each indicator and summary scores for each clinical condition. Predictors of a high level of performance were determined with the use of multivariable linear regression. A total of 3558 hospitals reported data on at least one stable measure (defined as information obtained from discharge data from at least 25 patients) during the first half of 2004. Median performance scores (expressed as the percentage of patients who satisfied the criterion) were at least 90 percent for 5 of the 10 measures but lower for the other 5. Performance varied moderately among large hospital-referral regions, with the top-ranked regions scoring 12 percentage points (for acute myocardial infarction) to 23 percentage points (for pneumonia) higher than the bottom-ranked regions. A high quality of care for acute myocardial infarction predicted a high quality of care for congestive heart failure but was only marginally better than chance at predicting a high quality of care for pneumonia. Characteristics associated with small but significant increases in performance included being an academic hospital, being in the Northeast or Midwest, and being a not-for-profit hospital. Analysis of data from the new HQA national reporting system shows that performance varies among hospitals and across indicators. Given this variation and small differences based on hospitals' characteristics, performance reporting will probably need to include numerous clinical conditions from a broad range of hospitals.

                Author and article information

                JAMA Internal Medicine
                JAMA Intern Med
                American Medical Association (AMA)
                February 27 2023
                [1 ]RAND Corporation, Arlington, Virginia
                [2 ]University of Texas at Austin
                [3 ]RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California
                [4 ]RAND Corporation, Boston, Massachusetts
                © 2023


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