The following is a brief summary of an investigation conducted by our lab on the cost savings benefits associated with exercising during cancer treatment. This study was published in 2019 in the peer-reviewed Journal of Integrative Cancer Therapies.
Cancer has a tremendous impact on an individual – both physically and economically. Over the past 40 years, the average monthlycosts of cancer drugs have risen from less than $100 in 1965-69 to more than $10,000 in 2016. Because of these astronomical costs, medical bills are now the leading cause of personal bankruptcy.
At Maple Tree, nearly 70% of our patients are experiencing some kind of financial distress related to their medical bills.
As the cost of health care continues to escalate, the importance of finding innovate ways to reduce cost burden rises accordingly. One such intervention is exercise.
With more than two decades of literature supporting the safety and efficacy of exercise during cancer treatment, our team hypothesized that these physical benefits would extend to a reduction in medical costs, as well.
In order to measure the economic impact of the individualized exercise oncology program at Maple Tree Cancer Alliance, we partnered with an independent research group called ASCEND Innovations. ASCEND is granted access to patient records through agreements with hospitals that are members of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association (GDAHA). For this investigation, ASCEND researchers retrospectively analyzed patient records to statistically demonstrate the positive impact of exercise during cancer treatment.
Important to note here is that all patient records were drawn from the GDAHA database and were de-identified, so that there was no way to link health record information back to the patient.
A total of 1493 encounters of patients who participated at Maple Tree Cancer Alliance between November 11, 2014 and March 31, 2017 were analyzed for the 6-months prior to enrollment at Maple Tree, and 6-months after their enrollment date.
The three primary hospital measures that were analyzed included number of re-admissions, number of emergency room visits, and average total charges.
Our independent research group found a significant reduction in the number of emergency room visits (27% reduction, p<0.05), as well as a decreased length of stay of approximately 24-hours (p<0.05) in the 6 months following enrollment in Maple Tree Cancer Alliance.
This equated to a reduction in patient medical bills by $2,834 per encounter – or a 28% reduction in medical bills (p<0.05) after enrollment at Maple Tree Cancer Alliance.
The results statistically demonstrate a positive effect of exercise oncology during cancer care – in terms of reductions in overall cost per patient. Therefore, we assert that individualized exercise oncology programs should be employed as part of the national standard of care for indiviuals battling cancer. Doing so will improve patient outcome and reduce cost burden associated with cancer treatment.