CAPC News Bites, February 3, 2017

What you need to know this week

How States Can Expand Access to Palliative Care

The changing of the guard in Washington D.C. has raised pivotal questions about the future of palliative care delivery and payment.  In Health Affairs, Diane Meier, MD and Stacie Sinclair, Policy Manager at CAPC, offer expertise on how states can continue to offer palliative care services to their populations should the Affordable Care Act be repealed and replaced.  The article offers a detailed breakdown of policies that currently affect this medical specialty and lays out the options available to states, health care organizations, commercial payers, providers, and patients and families themselves to continue to push the needle forward. The policies discussed in the post are intended to serve as a framework for policymakers and other stakeholders interested in doing more to support palliative care in their states. Click here to read this important piece.

5 Keys for Perfecting Palliative Care

Interventions to improve quality of life for the seriously ill are often provided haphazardly, says Sean Morrison, MD, Professor of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. In a recent post in HealthLeaders magazine, Dr. Morrison offers five keys to institutions for transforming palliative care in the hospital system. Among the tips is a call for palliative care teams to first define their objectives and have a clear understanding of why their services are essential to help those facing serious illness.

“To achieve the necessary buy-in to make improvements in all of these areas, organizations must begin with a clear message about what palliative care truly means,” says Dr. Morrison. The other keys include:

  • Investing in mid-career training for primary-care physicians as well as palliative care specialists so that all are equally trained in providing the necessary communication and pain management skills
  • Ensuring a consistent and accurate screening mechanism to identify patients and families who can benefit from palliative care
  • Spreading out into new areas such as the community setting to better care for members of an institution’s population.
  • Monitoring and reporting on metrics to further show the efficacy of palliative care

Click here to read more.

Investigating the Influence of Lay Navigation on Cost and Resource Use of Older Adults with Cancer

Lay navigators in the Patient Care Connect Program support patients with cancer from diagnosis and throughout the illness trajectory. They empower patients to engage in their health care and navigate them through the increasingly complex health care system. Navigation programs can improve access to care, enhance coordination of care, and overcome barriers to timely, high-quality health care. However, few data exist regarding the financial implications of implementing a lay navigation program. To examine the influence of lay navigation on health care spending and resource use among geriatric patients with cancer, researchers compared changes in quarterly Medicare costs and health care use between patients navigated in the Patient Care Connect Program and a propensity score–matched group of non-navigated patients.

The study found that costs to Medicare and health care use from 2012 through 2015 declined significantly for navigated patients compared with matched comparison patients. “Lay navigation programs should be expanded as health systems transition to value-based health care,” say the researchers. Click here to view details of the study as well as the results.

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