Year 2021
October 2021


Abstract Title
Impact of Palliative Care on Healthcare Utilization for End Stage Organ Disease



Tan Tock Seng Hospital1, National Healthcare Group HQ2

Background & Hypothesis

Although patients living with end stage organ disease (ESOD) suffer unmet needs from the physical and emotional burdens of living with chronic illness, they are less likely to receive palliative care.

The aims of the study were to determine if palliative care referrals reduced healthcare utilization and if impact on healthcare utilization was dependent on the timing of the referral.


Patients with ESOD who received palliative care support were matched with those who did not using Coarsened exact matching (CEM) and Propensity score matching (PSM), and compared in this retrospective cohort study.

Primary outcomes of interests were reduction in all-cause emergency department (ED) visits and costs, reduction in all-cause tertiary hospital admissions, length of hospital stay and inpatient hospital costs.


Patients with ESOD referred to palliative care experienced a reduction in the frequency of all cause ED visits and inpatient hospital admissions. Significant impact of a palliative care referral was at 3 months, rather than 1 month prior to death with a greater reduction in the frequency of ED visits, inpatient hospital admissions, length of stay and charges (p all < 0.05). The most common ESOD referred to palliative care for 1110 matched patients was end stage renal failure (57.7%), and least commonly for respiratory failure (7.6%).

Discussion & Conclusion

Palliative care can reduce healthcare utilization, with reduction greatest when the referral is timed earlier in the disease trajectory. Cost savings can be judiciously redirected to the development of palliative care resources for integrated support of patients and caregivers.