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Hospital-based Cancer Treatment Costs 60% More Than in Community Settings

News  |  By Debra Shute  
   September 28, 2017

A multitude of trends make hospitals the predominant choice for oncology patients, researchers say.

Previous studies have suggested that community-based cancer care is substantially less expensive, and new research released today by the Community Oncology Alliance (COA) confirms that idea.

In particular, the researchers found that the cost of cancer care for patients with breast, lung, or colorectal cancer treated in the community clinic setting was approximately $8,000 less expensive per month than for those patients treated in the hospital-based practice setting.

Overall, that means that the total cost of care for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy delivered in the hospital outpatient setting is nearly 60%, or $90,144 per year, more expensive than the same treatment delivered in independent, community oncology practices, according to researchers.

Related: How Partnerships Can Bring Community Care to the Next Level

Additionally, cancer patients treated in the hospital setting are more likely to visit the emergency department (ED) following treatment. Within 72 hours of chemotherapy they were nearly 40% higher in the hospital setting (3.6% vs. 2.6%); and within 10 days of chemotherapy, they were 24% higher in the hospital setting (9.8% vs. 7.9%).

The study, “The Value of Community Oncology: Site of Care Cost Analysis,” was conducted by Lucio Gordan, MD, medical director in the division of quality & informatics at Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, and Xcenda, a global health economics consultancy.

Related: Adding More Care into Cancer Care

Despite the benefits of community-based cancer care, such settings are becoming less prevalent in the marketplace for several reasons, the researchers noted, including community cancer clinic closures, hospital acquisitions, and corporate mergers.

Such trends may be partly driven by reimbursement and administrative burden issues in community clinics, they added.

“Providers, payers, policymakers, and patients need to take a long hard look at the impact that site of care has on cancer patients, not just in terms of the cost, but also outcomes, quality of care, and satisfaction,” said Gordon. 

Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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