Business Case and Palliative Care

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The Case for Hospital Palliative Care: Improving Quality. Reducing Cost.


Creating a Palliative Care Business Plan

Lynn Spragens, CEO of Spragens & Associates, offers tips on how to create a successful business plan.

Palliative care can help hospitals and the health care system achieve the win-win health care scenario: high quality medical care at lower cost.

By establishing patients’ goals of care through skilled communication and management of complex pain and symptoms, palliative care teams can meet patients’ needs and help them avoid unwanted, unnecessary and expensive crisis care.

Unintended but Welcome Consequence of Providing High Quality Care

Palliative care increases patient and family satisfaction, it improves quality and it can help to extend survival. The resulting cost savings are an unintended but welcome consequence of providing high quality care. Studies have demonstrated that palliative care programs can save hospitals millions of dollars a year.

Palliative care, and the medical sub-specialty of palliative medicine, is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness with the goal of improving quality of life. By taking better care of our sickest and most complex patients – the 10 percent that drive two-thirds of all healthcare spending – palliative medicine can achieve striking results for health systems working to improve key quality measures.

ACA Emphasis on Quality, Penalties for Poor Performance

As health systems adjust to the new requirements of the Affordable Care Act, there is an indisputable business case for developing or expanding palliative care programs. The ACA’s emphasis on quality has brought about considerable financial penalties for poor performance on key quality measures. Palliative care has been shown to cut 30-day readmission rates and hospital mortality in half.

Given the gains in quality and reduced costs associated with palliative care, it is little wonder that the field has become one of the fastest growing medical specialties in the United States. Almost 90 percent of large US hospitals (300 beds or more) now have a palliative care program. Further quality gains and associated cost savings could be made through successful integration of palliative care models into the community – nursing homes, assisted living facilities, physician office practices and home care – to prevent unnecessary and risky hospitalization for our sickest and most vulnerable patients.


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