Is home-based palliative care cost effective? An economic evaluation of the Palliative Care Extended Packages at Home (PEACH) pilot
Objective The aim of this study was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of a home-based palliative care model relative to usual care in expediting discharge or enabling patients to remain at home.
Design Economic evaluation of a pilot randomised controlled trial with 28 days follow-up.
Methods Mean costs and effectiveness were calculated for the Palliative Care Extended Packages at Home (PEACH) and usual care arms including: days at home; place of death; PEACH intervention costs; specialist palliative care service use; acute hospital and palliative care unit inpatient stays; and outpatient visits.
Results PEACH mean intervention costs per patient ($3489) were largely offset by lower mean inpatient care costs ($2450) and in this arm, participants were at home for one additional day on average. Consequently, PEACH is cost-effective relative to usual care when the threshold value for one extra day at home exceeds $1068, or $2547 if only within-study days of hospital admission are costed. All estimates are high uncertainty.
Conclusions The results of this small pilot study point to the potential of PEACH as a cost-effective end-of-life care model relative to usual care. Findings support the feasibility of conducting a definitive, fully powered study with longer follow-up and comprehensive economic evaluation.