The researchers identified factors that were significantly associated with hospice enrollment. A higher incidence of comorbidities, older age, female gender, and white race were associated with hospice enrollment, and there were no clear geographic patterns. Patients who were treated by physicians who were predominantly linked to nonprofit hospitals also were significantly more likely to have enrolled in hospice, compared with patients treated by physicians associated with for-profit facilities. Patients receiving care from oncologists were more likely to be enrolled in hospice when compared to internists, family practitioners, and other specialties. The researchers concluded that the proportion of a physician’s patients who were enrolled in hospice was a strong predictor of whether or not that physician’s other patients would enroll in hospice. The data suggest that it is the physician’s characteristics that is the strongest predictor of whether a patient will be referred to hospice care, outweighing other known drivers, such as geographic location, patient’s age, race, sex, and comorbidities.
Obermeyer A, Powers BW, Makar M, et al. Physician characteristics strongly predict patient enrollment in hospice. Health Aff. 2015;34(6):993-1000.