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Courtney P. Williams, Andres Azuero, Kelly M. Kenzik, Maria Pisu, Ryan D. Nipp, Smita Bhatia, and Gabrielle B. Rocque

Background: Treatment for metastatic breast cancer (MBC) that is not concordant with the NCCN Guidelines for Breast Cancer has been associated with higher healthcare utilization and payer costs. However, a significant knowledge gap exists regarding the impact of guideline-discordant care on patient cost responsibility. This study examined this question among patients with MBC in the year postdiagnosis. Methods: This retrospective cohort study used data from the SEER-Medicare linked database from 2000 through 2013. Guideline discordance, defined by year-specific NCCN Guidelines, was assessed for first-line antineoplastic treatment and grouped into discrete categories. Patient cost responsibility (deductibles, coinsurance, copayments) in women with MBC were summed for all medical care received in the year postdiagnosis. The difference in patient cost responsibility by guideline discordance status was estimated using linear mixed-effect models. Results: Of 3,709 patients with MBC surviving at least 1 year postdiagnosis, 17.6% (n=651) received guideline-discordant treatment. Median cost responsibility in the year postdiagnosis for patients receiving guideline-discordant treatment was $7,421 (interquartile range [IQR], $4,359–$12,983) versus $5,171 (IQR, $3,006–$8,483) for those receiving guideline-concordant care. In adjusted models, guideline-discordant treatment was significantly associated with $1,841 higher patient costs in the first year from index diagnosis date (95% CI, $1,280–$2,401) compared with guideline-concordant care. Patient cost responsibility differed by category of guideline discordance, with those receiving nonapproved bevacizumab having the highest cost responsibility (β=$3,330; 95% CI, $1,711–$4,948). Conclusions: Deviations from current treatment guidelines may have implications on patient healthcare cost responsibility. Additional research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms underlying how guideline deviation leads to greater costs for patients with MBC.

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Daniel E. Lage, Areej El-Jawahri, Charn-Xin Fuh, Richard A. Newcomb, Vicki A. Jackson, David P. Ryan, Joseph A. Greer, Jennifer S. Temel, and Ryan D. Nipp

Background: National guidelines recommend regular measurement of functional status among patients with cancer, particularly those who are elderly or high-risk, but little is known about how functional status relates to clinical outcomes among hospitalized patients with advanced cancer. The goal of this study was to investigate how functional impairment is associated with symptom burden and healthcare utilization and clinical outcomes. Patients and Methods: We conducted a prospective observational study of patients with advanced cancer with unplanned hospitalizations at Massachusetts General Hospital from September 2014 through March 2016. Upon admission, nurses assessed patients’ activities of daily living (ADLs; mobility, feeding, bathing, dressing, and grooming). Patients with any ADL impairment on admission were classified as having functional impairment. We used the revised Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS-r) and Patient Health Questionnaire-4 to assess physical and psychological symptoms, respectively. Multivariable regression models were used to assess the relationships between functional impairment, hospital length of stay, and survival. Results: Among 971 patients, 390 (40.2%) had functional impairment. Those with functional impairment were older (mean age, 67.18 vs 60.81 years; P<.001) and had a higher physical symptom burden (mean ESAS physical score, 35.29 vs 30.85; P<.001) compared with those with no functional impairment. They were also more likely to report moderate-to-severe pain (74.9% vs 63.1%; P<.001) and symptoms of depression (38.3% vs 23.6%; P<.001) and anxiety (35.9% vs 22.4%; P<.001). Functional impairment was associated with longer hospital length of stay (β = 1.29; P<.001) and worse survival (hazard ratio, 1.73; P<.001). Conclusions: Hospitalized patients with advanced cancer who had functional impairment experienced a significantly higher symptom burden and worse clinical outcomes compared with those without functional impairment. These findings provide evidence supporting the routine assessment of functional status on hospital admission and using this to inform discharge planning, discussions about prognosis, and the development of interventions addressing patients’ symptoms and physical function.

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Eric J. Roeland, Kathryn J. Ruddy, Thomas W. LeBlanc, Ryan D. Nipp, Gary Binder, Silvia Sebastiani, Ravi Potluri, Luke Schmerold, Eros Papademetriou, Lee Schwartzberg, and Rudolph M. Navari

Background: Clinician adherence to antiemetic guidelines for preventing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) caused by highly emetogenic chemotherapy (HEC) remains poorly characterized. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate individual clinician adherence to HEC antiemetic guidelines. Patients and Methods: A retrospective analysis of patients receiving HEC was conducted using the IBM Watson Explorys Electronic Health Record Database (2012–2018). HEC antiemetic guideline adherence was defined as prescription of triple prophylaxis (neurokinin-1 receptor antagonist [NK1 RA], serotonin type-3 receptor antagonist, dexamethasone) at initiation of cisplatin or anthracycline + cyclophosphamide (AC). Clinicians who prescribed ≥5 HEC courses were included and individual guideline adherence was assessed, noting the number of prescribing clinicians with >90% adherence. Results: A total of 217 clinicians were identified who prescribed 2,543 cisplatin and 1,490 AC courses. Patients (N=4,033) were primarily women (63.3%) and chemotherapy-naïve (92%) with a mean age of 58.6 years. Breast (36%) and thoracic (19%) cancers were the most common tumor types. Guideline adherence rates of >90% were achieved by 35% and 58% of clinicians using cisplatin or AC, respectively. Omission of an NK1 RA was the most common practice of nonadherence. Variation in prophylaxis guideline adherence was considerable for cisplatin (mean, 71%; SD, 29%; coefficient of variation [CV], 0.40) and AC (mean, 84%; SD, 26%; CV, 0.31). Conclusions: Findings showed substantial gaps in clinician adherence to HEC CINV guidelines, including a high variability across clinicians. Clinicians should review their individual clinical practices and ensure adherence to evidence-based CINV guidelines to optimize patient care.

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Eric J Roeland, Thomas W. LeBlanc, Kathryn J. Ruddy, Ryan Nipp, Rebecca Clark-Snow, Rita Wickham, Gary Binder, William L. Bailey, Ravi Potluri, Luke M. Schmerold, Eros Papademetriou, and Rudolph M. Navari

Background: Avoiding acute care services can improve cancer care and reduce cost. The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) new oncology outcome measure (OP-35) defines 30-day post-chemotherapy inpatient (IP) and/or emergency department (ED) events (IP/ED) as “potentially avoidable” if involving any of 10 toxicities, including nausea or vomiting (NV). Evidence demonstrates meaningful gaps in oncologists’ adherence to antiemetic prophylaxis guidelines for highly emetogenic chemotherapy (HEC), and that NV-related IP use costs >$10,000; yet the incidence of avoidable acute care events involving NV is not well studied. Methods: We assessed chemotherapy courses using IBM Explorys electronic health records (4Q 2012–1Q 2018). We identified rates of IP/ED ≤30 days post-chemotherapy, and OP-35 toxicities (NV, anemia, dehydration, diarrhea, fever, neutropenia, pain, pneumonia, or sepsis) by ICD-9, ICD-10, procedure codes, and CMS criteria. We evaluated cisplatin, anthracycline + cyclophosphamide (AC), carboplatin (>14 days apart, as a proxy for AUC ≥4), oxaliplatin (OX), and other non-HEC chemotherapy. We assessed guideline adherence, defined as triple prophylaxis (NK1 RA + 5HT3 RA +dexamethasone) rates at HEC initiation. Results: In 17,609 HEC and 56,624 non-HEC courses, we observed 30-day IP/ED utilization in 29% and 19% of courses, respectively (). For HEC, 76% of IP/ED use involved ≥1 of the 10 CMS toxicities, most often anemia (42%), pain (41%), dehydration (24%), and NV (24%). Rates of all-cause IP/ED, IP/ED with OP-35 toxicity, and NV-related IP/ED were consistent for HEC and OX. Gaps in triple prophylaxis were common in HEC. Conclusion: Roughly one-third of patients receiving HEC or OX experienced IP/ED events ≤30 days after chemotherapy. Three-quarters of IP/ED events involved ≥1 of 10 OP-35 toxicities linked by CMS to potentially avoidable acute care; of these, one-third involved NV. NV-associated acute care use is considerable, costly, and potentially avoidable with better adherence to antiemesis guidelines.

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Ryan D. Nipp, Leah L. Thompson, Brandon Temel, Charn-Xin Fuh, Christine Server, Paul S. Kay, Sophia Landay, Daniel E. Lage, Lara Traeger, Erin Scott, Vicki A. Jackson, Nora K. Horick, Joseph A. Greer, Areej El-Jawahri, and Jennifer S. Temel

Background: Oncologists often struggle with managing the complex issues unique to older adults with cancer, and research is needed to identify patients at risk for poor outcomes. Methods: This study enrolled patients aged ≥70 years within 8 weeks of a diagnosis of incurable gastrointestinal cancer. Patient-reported surveys were used to assess vulnerability (Vulnerable Elders Survey [scores ≥3 indicate a positive screen for vulnerability]), quality of life (QoL; EORTC Quality of Life of Cancer Patients questionnaire [higher scores indicate better QoL]), and symptoms (Edmonton Symptom Assessment System [ESAS; higher scores indicate greater symptom burden] and Geriatric Depression Scale [higher scores indicate greater depression symptoms]). Unplanned hospital visits within 90 days of enrollment and overall survival were evaluated. We used regression models to examine associations among vulnerability, QoL, symptom burden, hospitalizations, and overall survival. Results: Of 132 patients approached, 102 (77.3%) were enrolled (mean [M] ± SD age, 77.25 ± 5.75 years). Nearly half (45.1%) screened positive for vulnerability, and these patients were older (M, 79.45 vs 75.44 years; P=.001) and had more comorbid conditions (M, 2.13 vs 1.34; P=.017) compared with nonvulnerable patients. Vulnerable patients reported worse QoL across all domains (global QoL: M, 53.26 vs 66.82; P=.041; physical QoL: M, 58.95 vs 88.24; P<.001; role QoL: M, 53.99 vs 82.12; P=.001; emotional QoL: M, 73.19 vs 85.76; P=.007; cognitive QoL: M, 79.35 vs 92.73; P=.011; social QoL: M, 59.42 vs 82.42; P<.001), higher symptom burden (ESAS total: M, 31.05 vs 15.00; P<.001), and worse depression score (M, 4.74 vs 2.25; P<.001). Vulnerable patients had a higher risk of unplanned hospitalizations (hazard ratio, 2.38; 95% CI, 1.08–5.27; P=.032) and worse overall survival (hazard ratio, 2.26; 95% CI, 1.14–4.48; P=.020). Conclusions: Older adults with cancer who screen positive as vulnerable experience a higher symptom burden, greater healthcare use, and worse survival. Screening tools to identify vulnerable patients should be integrated into practice to guide clinical care.

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Emily van Seventer, J. Peter Marquardt, Amelie S. Troschel, Till D. Best, Nora Horick, Chinenye Azoba, Richard Newcomb, Eric J. Roeland, Michael Rosenthal, Christopher P. Bridge, Joseph A. Greer, Areej El-Jawahri, Jennifer Temel, Florian J. Fintelmann, and Ryan D. Nipp

Background: Low muscle mass (quantity) is common in patients with advanced cancer, but little is known about muscle radiodensity (quality). We sought to describe the associations of muscle mass and radiodensity with symptom burden, healthcare use, and survival in hospitalized patients with advanced cancer. Methods: We prospectively enrolled hospitalized patients with advanced cancer from September 2014 through May 2016. Upon admission, patients reported their physical (Edmonton Symptom Assessment System [ESAS]) and psychological (Patient Health Questionnaire-4 [PHQ-4]) symptoms. We used CT scans performed per routine care within 45 days before enrollment to evaluate muscle mass and radiodensity. We used regression models to examine associations of muscle mass and radiodensity with patients’ symptom burden, healthcare use (hospital length of stay and readmissions), and survival. Results: Of 1,121 patients enrolled, 677 had evaluable muscle data on CT (mean age, 62.86 ± 12.95 years; 51.1% female). Older age and female sex were associated with lower muscle mass (age: B, –0.16; P<.001; female: B, –6.89; P<.001) and radiodensity (age: B, –0.33; P<.001; female: B, –1.66; P=.014), and higher BMI was associated with higher muscle mass (B, 0.58; P<.001) and lower radiodensity (B, –0.61; P<.001). Higher muscle mass was significantly associated with improved survival (hazard ratio, 0.97; P<.001). Notably, higher muscle radiodensity was significantly associated with lower ESAS-Physical (B, –0.17; P=.016), ESAS-Total (B, –0.29; P=.002), PHQ-4-Depression (B, –0.03; P=.006), and PHQ-4-Anxiety (B, –0.03; P=.008) symptoms, as well as decreased hospital length of stay (B, –0.07; P=.005), risk of readmission or death in 90 days (odds ratio, 0.97; P<.001), and improved survival (hazard ratio, 0.97; P<.001). Conclusions: Although muscle mass (quantity) only correlated with survival, we found that muscle radiodensity (quality) was associated with patients’ symptoms, healthcare use, and survival. These findings underscore the added importance of assessing muscle quality when seeking to address adverse muscle changes in oncology.

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P. Connor Johnson, Netana H. Markovitz, Tamryn F. Gray, Sunil Bhatt, Ryan D. Nipp, Nneka Ufere, Julia Rice, Matthew J. Reynolds, Mitchell W. Lavoie, Carlisle E.W. Topping, Madison A. Clay, Charlotta Lindvall, and Areej El-Jawahri

Background: Social support plays a crucial role for patients with aggressive hematologic malignancies as they navigate their illness course. The aim of this study was to examine associations of social support with overall survival (OS) and healthcare utilization in this population. Methods: A cross-sectional secondary analysis was conducted using data from a prospective longitudinal cohort study of 251 hospitalized patients with aggressive hematologic malignancies at Massachusetts General Hospital from 2014 through 2017. Natural Language Processing (NLP) was used to identify the extent of patients’ social support (limited vs adequate as defined by NLP-aided chart review of the electronic health record). Multivariable regression models were used to examine associations of social support with (1) OS, (2) death or readmission within 90 days of discharge from index hospitalization, (3) time to readmission within 90 days, and (4) index hospitalization length of stay. Results: Patients had a median age of 64 years (range, 19–93 years), and most were White (89.6%), male (68.9%), and married (65.3%). A plurality of patients had leukemia (42.2%) followed by lymphoma (37.9%) and myelodysplastic syndrome/myeloproliferative neoplasm (19.9%). Using NLP, we identified that 8.8% (n=22) of patients had limited social support. In multivariable analyses, limited social support was associated with worse OS (hazard ratio, 2.00; P=.042) and a higher likelihood of death or readmission within 90 days of discharge (odds ratio, 3.11; P=.043), but not with time to readmission within 90 days or with index hospitalization length of stay. Conclusions: In this cohort of hospitalized patients with aggressive hematologic malignancies, we found associations of limited social support with lower OS and a higher likelihood of death or readmission within 90 days of hospital discharge. These findings underscore the utility of NLP for evaluating the extent of social support and the need for larger studies evaluating social support in patients with aggressive hematologic malignancies.

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Ryan D. Nipp, Brandon Temel, Charn-Xin Fuh, Paul Kay, Sophia Landay, Daniel Lage, Esteban Franco-Garcia, Erin Scott, Erin Stevens, Terrence O’Malley, Supriya Mohile, William Dale, Lara Traeger, Ardeshir Z. Hashmi, Vicki Jackson, Joseph A. Greer, Areej El-Jawahri, and Jennifer S. Temel

Background: Oncologists often struggle with managing the unique care needs of older adults with cancer. This study sought to determine the feasibility of delivering a transdisciplinary intervention targeting the geriatric-specific (physical function and comorbidity) and palliative care (symptoms and prognostic understanding) needs of older adults with advanced cancer. Methods: Patients aged ≥65 years with incurable gastrointestinal or lung cancer were randomly assigned to a transdisciplinary intervention or usual care. Those in the intervention arm received 2 visits with a geriatrician, who addressed patients’ palliative care needs and conducted a geriatric assessment. We predefined the intervention as feasible if >70% of eligible patients enrolled in the study and >75% of eligible patients completed study visits and surveys. At baseline and week 12, we assessed patients’ quality of life (QoL), symptoms, and communication confidence. We calculated mean change scores in outcomes and estimated intervention effect sizes (ES; Cohen’s d) for changes from baseline to week 12, with 0.2 indicating a small effect, 0.5 a medium effect, and 0.8 a large effect. Results: From February 2017 through June 2018, we randomized 62 patients (55.9% enrollment rate [most common reason for refusal was feeling too ill]; median age, 72.3 years; cancer types: 56.5% gastrointestinal, 43.5% lung). Among intervention patients, 82.1% attended the first visit and 79.6% attended both. Overall, 89.7% completed all study surveys. Compared with usual care, intervention patients had less QoL decrement (–0.77 vs –3.84; ES = 0.21), reduced number of moderate/severe symptoms (–0.69 vs +1.04; ES = 0.58), and improved communication confidence (+1.06 vs –0.80; ES = 0.38). Conclusions: In this pilot trial, enrollment exceeded 55%, and >75% of enrollees completed all study visits and surveys. The transdisciplinary intervention targeting older patients’ unique care needs showed encouraging ES estimates for enhancing patients’ QoL, symptom burden, and communication confidence.