Evaluating a Palliative Care Case Management Program for Cancer Patients: The Omega Life Program
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PURPOSE: This study evaluated a cancer case management pilot program focusing on palliative care, the Omega Life Program (OLP), by assessing whether the program was associated with reduced hospital utilization. METHODS: A retrospective observational study of patients with cancer who enrolled in the OLP (intervention) compared to those who chose not to enroll (comparison) from January 1, 2005 to February 28, 2007. Patients were included in the primary analyses if they died by the end of the study period and were enrolled in the program at least 1 week before death. Patients were followed from the time of referral until death. Outcomes included whether or not the patients had any admissions during this period and, for patients with at least one admission, the total number of inpatient hospital admissions, inpatient days, and hospital costs. RESULTS: Approximately 75% of eligible patients enrolled in the OLP; 60% were older than 50 and 60% were female. Of included patients in the intervention group (n = 69), 59% had no admissions compared to 15% of patients in the comparison group (n = 20). However, among patients who had at least one admission, the mean number of hospital admissions, inpatient days, and hospitals costs were not significantly different between the groups. CONCLUSIONS: In this pilot study, patients in the OLP had significantly reduced odds of having any hospital admissions compared to those in usual care. This type of program may improve outcomes for patients, but further research is needed to evaluate outcomes using larger samples and more rigorous study designs.
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