A Rural Cancer Outreach Program lowers patient care costs and benefits both the rural hospitals and sponsoring academic medical center

Christopher E. Desch, Michael A. Grasso, Michael J. McCue, Debra Buonaiuto, Kay Grasso, Mary K. Johantgen, James E. Shaw, Thomas J. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Rural Cancer Outreach Program (RCOP) between two rural hospitals and the Medical College of Virginia's Massey Cancer Center (MCC) was developed to bring state-of-the-art cancer care to medically underserved rural patients. The financial impact of the RCOP on both the rural hospitals and the MCC was analyzed. Pre- and post-RCOP financial data were collected on 1,745 cancer patients treated at the participating centers, two rural community hospitals and the MCC. The main outcome measures were costs (estimated reimbursement from all sources), revenues, contribution margins and profit (or loss) of the program. The RCOP may have enhanced access to cancer care for rural patients at less cost to society. The net annual cost per patient fell from $10,233 to $3,862 associated with more use of outpatient services, more efficient use of resources, and the shift to a less expensive locus of care. The cost for each rural patient admitted to the Medical College of Virginia fell by more than 40 percent compared with only an 8 percent decrease for all other cancer patients. The rural hospitals experienced rapid growth of their programs to more than 200 new patients yearly, and the RCOP generated significant profits for them. MCC benefited from increased referrals from RCOP service areas by 330 percent for cancer patients and by 9 percent for non-cancer patients during the same time period. While it did not generate a major profit for the MCC, the RCOP generated enough revenue to cover costs of the program. The RCOP had a positive financial impact on the rural and academic medical center hospitals, provided state-of-the-art care near home for rural patients and was associated with lower overall cancer treatment costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-167
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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