Background: Although high-cost (HC) patients make up a small proportion of patients, they account for most health system costs. However, little is known about HC patients with cancer or whether some of their care could potentially be prevented. This analysis sought to characterize HC patients with cancer and quantify the costs of preventable acute care (emergency department visits and inpatient hospitalizations). Methods: This analysis examined a population-based sample of all HC patients in Ontario in 2013. HC patients were defined as those above the 90th percentile of the cost distribution; all other patients were defined as non–high-cost (NHC). Patients with cancer were identified through the Ontario Cancer Registry. Sociodemographic and clinical characteristics were examined and the costs of preventable acute care for both groups by category of visit/condition were estimated using validated algorithms. Results: Compared with NHC patients with cancer (n=369,422), HC patients with cancer (n=187,770) were older (mean age 70 vs 65 years), more likely to live in low-income neighborhoods (19% vs 16%), sicker, and more likely to live in long-term care homes (8% vs 0%). Although most patients from both cohorts tended to be diagnosed with breast, prostate, or colorectal cancer, those with multiple myeloma or pancreatic or liver cancers were overrepresented among the HC group. Moreover, HC patients were more likely to have advanced cancer at diagnosis and be in the initial or terminal phase of treatment compared with NHC patients. Among HC patients with cancer, 9% of spending stemmed from potentially preventable/avoidable acute care, whereas for NHC patients, this spending was approximately 30%. Conclusions: HC patients with cancer are a unique subpopulation. Given the type of care they receive, there seems to be limited scope to prevent acute care spending among this patient group. To reduce costs, other strategies, such as making hospital care more efficient and generating less costly encounters involving chemotherapy, should be explored.
Claire de Oliveira, Joyce Cheng, Kelvin Chan, Craig C. Earle, Murray Krahn and Nicole Mittmann
Julie Hallet, Laura Davis, Alyson Mahar, Michail Mavros, Kaitlyn Beyfuss, Ying Liu, Calvin H.L. Law, Craig Earle and Natalie Coburn
Background: Although pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PA) surgery performed by high-volume (HV) providers yields better outcomes, volume–outcome relationships are unknown for medical oncologists. This study examined variation in practice and outcomes in noncurative management of PA based on medical oncology provider volume. Methods: This population-based cohort study linked administrative healthcare datasets and included nonresected PA from 2005 through 2016. The volume of PA consultations per medical oncology provider per year was divided into quintiles, with HV providers (≥16 patients/year) constituting the fifth quintile and low-volume (LV) providers the first to fourth quintiles. Outcomes were receipt of chemotherapy and overall survival (OS). The Brown-Forsythe-Levene (BFL) test for equality of variances was performed to assess outcome variability between provider-volume quintiles. Multivariate regression models were used to examine the association between management by HV provider and outcomes. Results: A total of 7,062 patients with noncurable PA consulted with medical oncology providers. Variability was seen in receipt of chemotherapy and median survival based on provider volume (BFL, P<.001 for both), with superior 1-year OS for HV providers (30.1%; 95% CI, 27.7%–32.4%) compared with LV providers (19.7%; 95% CI, 18.5%–20.6%) (P<.001). After adjustment for age at diagnosis, sex, comorbidity burden, rural residence, income, and diagnosis period, HV provider care was independently associated with higher odds of receiving chemotherapy (odds ratio, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.05–1.34) and with superior OS (hazard ratio, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.74–0.84). Conclusions: Significant variation was seen in noncurative management and outcomes of PA based on provider volume, with management by an HV provider being independently associated with superior OS and higher odds of receiving chemotherapy. This information is important to inform disease care pathways and care organization. Cancer care systems could consider increasing the number of HV providers to reduce variation and improve outcomes.