If, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, then how many words is a highly informative infographic worth? The Kaiser Family Foundation and the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Network give us a good idea with a compelling one-page infographic, Medicare and End-of-Life Care, published earlier this month.
The infographic presents several snapshots of the state of end-of-life care in the United States today. Don’t let the sourcing by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Journal of the American Medical Association put you off. This easily understood information is not just for physicians—but actually anyone interested in health care policy, hospice care, Medicare funding and quality of life at the end of life .
Here are a few of my top-line takeaways from the data:
- There were 2.1 million Medicare beneficiaries among the 2.6 million total deaths in the United States in 2014.
- Hospice utilization among Medicare beneficiaries increased from 21% in 2000 to 46% in 2014.
- As hospice utilization grew, the percent of Medicare spending on care at the end of life as a share of total Medicare spending declined dramatically from 18.6% in 2000 to 13.5% in 2014.
- As Medicare beneficiaries age, Medicare spending on end-of-life care per beneficiary decreases.
- There is still much more work to do to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries facing a life-limiting illness understand all of their options for quality care.
- 73% of people aged 65 and older have not discussed end-of-life care with their physician.
- 40% of people aged 65 and older have not documented their end-of-life care wishes.
- 68% of physicians, as of 2016, report having had no formal training in holding end-of-life care discussions with their patients.
Caris Healthcare was founded in 2003 and is proud that its focus on patient-centered care and quality outcomes has contributed positively to the utilization and cost improvements documented in this new infographic. And we are always available to work with physicians, hospitals, care centers and assisted living communities in discussing care options with patients and families facing difficult decisions.