By Stericycle Staff | Mar. 10, 2015

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As hospice care agency executives know, demographic and healthcare trends are making hospice care more essential to the public than ever. The demands for compassionate, responsive end-of-life patient care are also growing proportionally along with these trends.

It’s valuable to get a sense of just how large the hospice care market is, and the competitive landscape, as the market begins to mature and agencies formulate plans to help them best compete in the marketplace.

Hospice facts and figures

  • Harris Williams & Co., an independent investment bank specializing in advisory services and financings for middle-market companies, reported several interesting facts about the growth and value of hospice care in its October 2013 Hospice Industry Overview. Below are just a few:
  • The $18.9 billion industry will grow 7.4 percent annually through 2017.
  • About 44 percent of Medicare decedents in 2010 received hospice care compared to 23 percent in 2000.
  • Growth will be driven by shifts in patient preferences towards non-acute care, hospice’s cost-saving value proposition and the aging of the U.S. population.
  • Ninety-eight percent of hospice patient care days are delivered in a non-acute setting.
  • The percentage of elderly who died in acute care hospitals declined from 33 percent in 2000 to 25 percent in 2009.
  • At an average per diem cost of $153 per day, hospice is the lowest-cost alternative for treating terminally ill patients.
  • Patients and families continue to learn the benefits of hospice, increasing utilization.
  • Patients who are admitted to hospice care spend up to nine fewer days in a hospital.
  • Hospice is a fragmented market with no individual provider owning more than 7.4 percent of the market. The top four providers only account for about 17 percent market share.

70 percent want to die at home

An article in the National Association of Home Care & Hospice’s Caring magazine reiterates the importance of hospice care relative to end-of-life care. This article, too, shares several facts demonstrating how demographic changes and hospice care advantages are dovetailing to create a bright future for hospice care. These facts include:

  • By 2020, the number of people living with at least one chronic illness will reach 157 million. Today, seven out of 10 Americans die from chronic disease.
  • Roughly 68 percent of Medicare costs are related to patients with four or more chronic conditions — a typical profile for palliative care patients.
  • The top 5 percent of patients requiring critical care for chronic disease and multi-organ failure account for nearly half of healthcare spending.
  • The cost per capita for 1 percent of such patients is $90,000, compared with $236 per capita for the bottom 50 percent.
  • A 2010 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients receiving early palliative care experienced less depression, had better quality of life and survived 2.7 months longer.
  • According to the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, more than 80 percent of patients with chronic diseases say they want to avoid hospitalization and intensive care when they are dying.
  • A CNN poll found that seven out of 10 Americans say they would prefer to die at home.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that only 25 percent of Americans actually die at home.

Patient communication and market leadership

What do all of these facts mean for hospice care agencies? Obviously, the future of hospice care is bright and the public’s growing demand for these services will increasingly result in better outcomes for patients and their families. But the industry is still in the process of entering the healthcare mainstream—Medicare created the hospice care benefit in 1982—and there is a lot of room for dominant market players to emerge as the industry matures.

It’s clear that the public’s expectations for service excellence will only grow along with its awareness of the benefits of these services. So, obviously, agencies that provide service excellence in terms of both clinical care and the overall patient experience will have a leg up in terms of developing into market leaders. It’s important to not overlook factors that contribute to the overall patient experience, such as patient communication. A quality call center partner can take a burden off of your administrative and on-call clinical staffs and handle inbound communication whenever patients and caretakers require assistance. The net result is a strengthening of your brand—positioning your organization for market leadership.

Author: Stericycle Staff

Stericycle has been delivering communication services to North American companies for over 25 years. Since 2011, we’ve been blogging about how to deliver best-in-class communications to patients and consumers – providing practical advice and current best practices for both healthcare and commercial organizations. We hope you enjoy and keep reading!
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