In the traditional healthcare model, preventive or curative treatment is emphasized initially, and comfort care only follows when those measures are no longer appropriate. However, palliative care is now being introduced much earlier in the process and is seen as a supplement to curative treatment, as research has underscored the many benefits of utilizing these services.
Unfortunately, despite its proven benefits, palliative care is still not always initiated when most appropriate due to deficiencies in clinical knowledge regarding this kind of care. As a result, many patients living with life-threatening or life-limiting illnesses either do not receive any palliative care services or receive them only in the last phase of life. As it is still growing as a patient specialty, building the right palliative care program can be difficult. To help ensure your hospital’s services are reaching the most appropriate candidates, gaining certification or using tools from two leading organizations can go a long way—even decreasing hospital costs in some cases.
Palliative Care Certification and Tools
The Joint Commission and The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) have become some of the main organizations that provide guidance on hospitals’ palliative care efforts. The Joint Commission’s Palliative Care Certification is an independent evaluation to validate the quality of a palliative care program. The standards set can help an organization build a more organized and patient-centric program. The certification also evaluates the ways a hospital can improve performance and clinical care practices while achieving regular and more consistent flows of data and information. When combined with best practice tools from the CAPC, palliative care offerings can really touch the right patients and families—and indicate a certain level of excellence to future patients, referring providers, and any financial partners.
Benefits of Improving Palliative Care Offerings
In addition to making patients more comfortable, palliative care has been proven to shorten hospital stays and lower costs—according to a 2018 study published in The Journal of American Medical Association. With data collected on 133,118 patients worldwide between 2001 and 2015, hospitals saved $3,237 on average per patient over the course of a hospital stay when palliative care was added to their routine regimen.
In 2016, CMS introduced a service intensity add-on payment for in-person routine home care visits by a registered nurse or social worker in the last seven days of life, with the supplemental reimbursement covering these home visits. This has been shown to increase revenue by approximately $202 per patient, according to a 2017 study in The Journal of Palliative Medicine.
While certification and continuous improvement efforts surrounding palliative care can cost time and money upfront, strengthening the quality of palliative care offerings can be extremely beneficial to patients and to an organization’s bottom line in the end.
HBI’s Resources Can Help
For organizations focused on optimizing their existing palliative care programs, HBI offerings a number of resources to help—including this HBI featured research piece. It answers commonly asked questions regarding the scope of palliative care programs, how to identify appropriate candidates, and ways to train primary care teams to have goals of care discussions.
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