Background: The Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers (DCCs) is comprised of 11 institutions that are exempt from the prospective payment system utilized by Medicare for hospital reimbursement. Objective: The aim of this study was to compare short- and long-term outcomes of patients undergoing liver and pancreatic surgery for cancer at DCCs versus non-DCCs. Methods: Patients who underwent a liver or pancreatic operation for a malignant indication between 2013 and 2015 were identified using the Medicare Inpatient Standard Analytic Files. Regression analyses and the Kaplan–Meier method were used to assess short- and long-term outcomes of patients at DCCs versus non-DCCs. Results: Among 13,256 patients, 7.0% of patients were treated at a DCC. Median patient age and complexity of surgical procedures were comparable among DCCs and non-DCCs (all p > 0.05). Overall complications (16.5% vs. 23.6%), 90-day readmission (26.2% vs. 30.2%), and 90-day mortality (3.0% vs. 8.7%) were lower at DCCs compared with non-DCCs (all p < 0.001). In addition, long-term hazards of death among patients undergoing hepatectomy [hazard ratio (HR) 0.64, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.54–0.75] and pancreatectomy (HR 0.66, 95% CI 0.56–0.78) were lower among patients treated at DCCs (both p < 0.05). While Medicare payments for patients undergoing pancreatic surgery (DCC: $22,200 vs. non-DCC: $22,100; p = 0.772) were comparable among DCC and non-DCC hospitals, Medicare payments for liver resection at DCCs were 13.9% lower than non-DCCs (DCC: $16,700 vs. non-DCC: $19,400; p < 0.001). Conclusions: Patients undergoing hepatopancreatic surgery at DCCs had better short- and long-term outcomes for the same/lower level of Medicare expenditure as non-DCC hospitals. DCCs provide higher-value surgical care for patients undergoing liver and pancreatic cancer operations.
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