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Does site-of-care for oncology infusion therapy influence treatment patterns, cost, and quality in the United States?

Background: The increase in hospital acquisition of community oncology clinics in the US has led to a shift in the site-of-care (SOC) for infusion therapy from the physician office (PO) to the hospital outpatient (HO) setting.

Objective: To investigate differences by SOC in treatment patterns, quality, and cost among patients with cancer undergoing first-line infusion therapy.

Research design and methods: This retrospective analysis identified adult patients from Humana medical claims who initiated infusion therapy from 2008–2012 for five common cancer types in which infusion therapy is likely, including early stage breast cancer; metastatic breast, lung, and colorectal cancers; and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Differences by SOC in first-line treatment patterns and quality of care at end-of-life, defined as infusions or hospitalizations 30 days prior to death, were evaluated using Wilcoxon-Rank Sum and Chi-square tests where appropriate. Differences in cost by SOC were evaluated using risk-adjusted generalized linear models.

Main outcome measures: Treatment patterns, quality of care at end of life, healthcare costs.

Results: There were differences in duration of therapy and number of infusions for some therapy regimens by SOC, in which patients in the HO had shorter duration of therapy and fewer infusions. There were no differences in quality of care at end-of-life by SOC. Total healthcare costs were 15% higher among patients in HO ($55,965) compared with PO ($48,439), p < .0001.

Limitations: Analyses was restricted to a claims-based population of cancer patients within a health plan.

Conclusion: This study, in an older, predominantly Medicare Advantage oncology cohort, found differences by SOC in treatment patterns and cost, but not quality. Where differences were found, patients receiving care in the HO had shorter duration of therapy and fewer infusions for specific treatment regimens, but higher healthcare costs than those treated in a PO.

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