Photo: George Bush Presidential Library via FlickrFormer First Lady Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday, announced two days earlier that she had ended curative treatment for life-threatening health issues in favor of what was described as “comfort care.”
Death may be the price we pay for life. But many physicians still regard death as a kind of failure. For families and patients, decisions about the management of serious illness and death can seem forbidding and difficult.
Even so, timely discussion of options such as palliative care and hospice care can offer deeply meaningful choices to people navigating life-threatening and terminal illnesses, according to experts on “The Increasing Demand for Palliative Care,” panel last week during Health Journalism 2018 in Phoenix.
“The model I am trying to promote … is earlier conversation,” said Robert Shannon, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine and palliative medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Jacksonville, Fla. Continue reading
Palliative care has come a long way since it emerged onto the U.S. health care scene in the late 1980s. The number of palliative care programs in U.S. hospitals with more than 50 beds tripled between 2000 and 2015, skyrocketing from 25 percent to 75 percent, according to this Health Affairs article.
The authors define palliative care as “team-based care that focuses on providing relief from the pain, symptom, and stress of serious illness.” New York Presbyterian Hospital goes a step further, explaining, that it is “interdisciplinary care that aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of life while simultaneously administering other appropriate treatments for patients with advanced, chronic, or life threatening illness.” Continue reading
Updated hospice compare data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) had been slated for release on Nov. 21 but was delayed due to what CMS has described as “technical problems.”
Whether you use previous data or analyze forthcoming statistics, what these federal quality measures do not show is just as important as what they do, according to a new AHCJ tip sheet by journalist Cheryl Clark. Continue reading
Photo: Vee via Flickr
Reporting on end of life can pose surprising challenges and opportunities.
If you haven’t yet listened to JoAnn Mar’s remarkable radio series on end-of-life issues, add it to your playlist right now. An AHCJ reporting fellowship allowed Mar to take a deeper dive into how people prepare for their last phase of life, and why good conversations with loved ones on the topic can be so important. The entire series, aired on KALW FM, San Francisco in January. Continue reading
Accountable Care Organizations, which were created by the Affordable Care Act as one way to improve the delivery of health care, may become an important want to reduce the wide variation in end-of-life (EOL) care, two academic researchers suggest in a recent Health Affairs blog post.
As we have pointed out repeatedly, while the political and fiscal battles have been over the coverage provisions in the ACA, much of the law also contains incentives and programs to improve both care quality and efficiency. And there are ample opportunities to do so toward the end of life, including in hospice. Continue reading
The inaugural Aspen Health Strategy Group (AHSG) report on improving end-of-life care pulls few punches in calling for significant changes in care design, delivery, financing, quality measurement and care provision.
The conclusions from the year-long study, which included input from dozens of health care leaders and experts, appealed for a serious overhaul by health systems, payers, academia, and policymakers of palliative and hospice care. Continue reading