OGDEN -- Patients in Ogden are the least likely in the country to spend time in the hospital during the last six months of life.
In research released last month, Dartmouth Atlas Project found Medicare spending for chronically ill patients at the end of life increased more than 15 percent from 2007 to 2010. In addition, the report shows that patients in Ogden spent an average of only 4.7 days in the hospital during the last six months of life, compared to the national average of 9.9 days.
Similarly, patients at Ogden Regional Medical Center in particular, were the least likely in the country to spend time in the hospital during their last few months of life, with an average of 4.6 days, according to the report.
The reason points to the growing use of hospice care and decrease in hospital use at the end of life, which are promising trends that may reflect attempts to provide care that aligns more closely with patient preferences, said Dr. David C. Goodman, co-principal investigator for Dartmouth.
"We all know that most patients choose to be home when it comes to the end of their lives," said Michele Weyland, director of case management and social services at Ogden Regional Medical Center.
Weyland said Ogden Regional Medical Center has instituted some initiatives that are aimed at closely following each patient's personal preference for end-of-life care.
"We respect every patient's personal choices. That's why every discharge is individualized and specific to the patient's needs and capabilities," she said. "There are no cookie cutter discharges."
The research looked at the last two years of Medicare claims records of 1,107,702 Medicare patients who died in 2010, both among 306 hospital referral regions and among more than 2,400 hospitals. The overall findings showed that in 2010, compared to 2007, patients were less likely to be in the hospital during the last six months of life, were more likely to be enrolled in hospice care during the last six months of life, less likely to die in the hospital, more likely to see more than 10 doctors during the last six months of life and just as likely to spend time in intensive care units during the last six months of life.
Aimee Whetman, vice president of strategic pricing and analytics at MountainStar Healthcare, said the direction of care during the end-of-life process is heavily reliant on the primary care physician, the coordination of care through hospice and the families' education or understanding of the stages involved with the medical condition.
"When it comes to helping patients and families make end-of-life decisions, we work closely with the independent physicians in our community," she said. "We rely on their clinical expertise and their personal engagement with each family as we work as a team to fully support and honor every patient's decision."