The Big Impact Tournament: Hospice Wins!

Modern Healthcare held a ‘tournament’ to determine what “one person, event, organization or innovation had the biggest impact on the health care deliver system in the past 35 years.”  And the winner is, a No. 12 seed, hospice! In the final, hospice defeated the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. On the way to the Championship round, hospice ‘upset’ such heavyweights at Electronic Health Records, and the release of the IOM report, To Err is Human. On the way to the final, IHI had to beat its founder, Don Berwick. That match up must have all of Cambridge, MA on edge, much as the first Wednesday of February has Durham and Chapel Hill hyperventilating over each season’s first UNC v. Duke battle. The tourney was decided by votes online.

While on its face it seems surprising that hospice would win (a No. 12 seed!) in fairness, I cannot think of anything else that Medicare pays for that is said to improve quality of life and actually reduce Medicare spending. Typically, we are left asking whether something that improves quality of life is worth the extra cost. Even the fact that hospice would be expected to deliver value while reducing cost is quite remarkable. I can’t think of any other intervention that faces that type of expectation. Can anyone else?

About Don Taylor
Professor of Public Policy at Duke University (with appointments in Business, Nursing, Community and Family Medicine, and the Duke Clinical Research Institute). I am one of the founding faculty of the Margolis Center for Health Policy, and currently serve as Chair of Duke's University Priorities Committee (UPC). My research focuses on improving care for persons who are dying, and I am co-PI of a CMMI award in Community Based Palliative Care. I teach both undergrads and grad students at Duke. On twitter @donaldhtaylorjr

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