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Palliative Care Programs Rapidly Growing in Nation's Hospitals: AHA Study Highlights New Trend in Health Care Delivery

AHA Study Highlights New Trend in Health Care Delivery

New York, NY (January 2, 2003) — Hospitals have been starting palliative care programs at a rapid pace, according to the new 2003 American Hospital Association (AHA) Annual Survey of Hospitals. The new data show 806 hospitals nationwide providing palliative care programs in 2001 as compared to 668 programs the previous year – a one-year increase of over 20%.

"Five years ago there were almost no hospital-based palliative care programs, so this is an extraordinary increase. It’s very good news for patients, families, and for any of us who may face serious illness in the future,” said Dr. Diane Meier, Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care.

Palliative medicine – intensive multidisciplinary treatment of the pain and symptoms of serious illness – is a prime example of a new, patient-centered trend in health care. While hospitals are currently facing rising costs, making it more challenging to deliver a full array of services, the U.S. health care system is witnessing the beginning of a new model of care, away from a focus solely on acute care to a model emphasizing integrated care for long term illness.

By 2030, the number of older Americans will have more than doubled to 70 million, or one in every five Americans. With the availability of advanced medical technologies, this growing number of older adults will live longer but with serious chronic illness, and ongoing pain and symptoms, increasing the demands placed on the public health system. Palliative care is widely viewed as a solution to this mounting problem.

The AHA Survey - a thorough survey of over 4,000 hospitals - first started tracking data for palliative care programs in 2000 (reported in the 2002 survey). As the health care delivery system has changed, so have the data tracked by the survey, reflecting new trends among hospitals as they expand services to meet the needs of their patients. As of July 2002, U.S. News and World Report has also added palliative care as a criterion in its special issue, America’s Best Hospitals.

The AHA statistics can be found in Hospital Statistics-2003 edition, a comprehensive guide to trends in hospitals, facilities, and patient services. The report surveys all AHA-registered hospitals and includes data arranged by state, region, and Metropolitan Statistical Area.

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The Center to Advance Palliative Care is a national initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, providing hospitals and other healthcare settings with the tools and technical assistance to develop hospital-based palliative care programs. Visit the CAPC website at www.capc.org.

CONTACT: Lisa Morgan, LDM Strategies, 212-924-6182 or lmorgan@ldmstrategies.com.

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