Brief Reports

Use of Advance Care Planning Billing Codes for Hospitalized Older Adults at High Risk of Dying: A National Observational Study

Abstract

We analyzed advance care planning (ACP) billing for adults aged 65 years or above and who were managed by a large national physician practice that employs acute care providers in hospital medicine, emergency medicine and critical care between January 1, 2017 and March 31, 2017. Prompting hospitalists to answer the validated “surprise question” (SQ; “Would you be surprised if the patient died in the next year?”) for inpatient admissions served to prime hospitalists and triggered an icon next to the patient’s name. Among 113,621 hospital-based encounters, only 6,146 (5.4%) involved a billed ACP conversation: 8.3% among SQ-prompted who answered “no” and 4.1% SQ-prompted who answered “yes” (for non-SQ prompted cases, the fraction was 3.5%; P < .0001). ACP conversations were associated with a comfort-focused care trajectory. Low ACP rates among even those with high hospitalist-predicted mortality risk underscore the need for quality improvement interventions to increase hospital-based ACP.

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