Introduction: Home-based palliative care is an essential model of palliative care that aims to provide continuity of care at patient's own home in an effective and timely manner. This study was a pilot test of triage coding system in home-based palliative care using Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) scale. Methods: Objective of the study was to evaluate if the triage coding system in home-based palliative care: (a) Facilitated timely intervention, (b) improved symptom control, and (c) avoided hospital deaths. Homecare services were coded as high (Group 1 - ESAS scores ≥7), medium (Group 2 - ESAS scores 4-6), and low (Group 3 - ESAS scores 0-3) priority based on ESAS scores. In high priority group, patients received home visit in 0-3 working days; medium priority group, patients received home visit in 0-10 working days; and low priority group, patients received home visit in 0-15 working days. The triage duration of home visit was arbitrarily decided based on the previous retrospective audit and consensus of the experts involved in prioritization and triaging in home care. Results: 'High priority' patients were visited in 2.63 ± 0.75 days; 'medium priority' patients were visited in 7.00 ± 1.5 days, and 'low priority' patients were visited in 10.54 ± 2.7 days. High and medium priority groups had a statistically significant improvement in most of the ESAS symptoms following palliative home care intervention. Intergroup comparison showed that improvement in symptoms was the highest in high priority group compared to medium and low priority group. There was an 8.5% increase in home and hospice deaths following the introduction of triage coding system. There was a significant decrease in deaths in the hospital in Group 1 (6.3%) (χ2 = 27.3, P < 0.001) compared to Group 2 (28.6%) and Group 3 (15.4%). Group 2 had more hospital deaths. Interval duration from triaging to first intervention was a significant predictor of survival with odds ratio 0.75 indicating that time taken for intervention from triaging was more significantly affecting survival than group triaging. Conclusion: Pilot study of testing triaging coding system in home-based palliative care showed, triage coding system: (a) Facilitated early palliative home care intervention, (b) improved symptom control, (c) decreased hospital deaths, predominantly in high priority group, and (d) time taken for intervention from triaging was a significant predictor of survival.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health