CAPC News Bites, November 2015

What you need to know this month:

Diane Meier Quoted in New York Times: Impact of CMS Ruling on Clinician Training

In a New York Times Health piece, Paula Span discusses the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)’s recent ruling to cover advance care planning discussions for seriously ill patients and the changes that still need to happen to make these discussions more commonplace.

CAPC Director, Diane E. Meier, MD, who was quoted in the piece, noted that CMS’s decision provides incentive for clinicians to become educated on how to have these conversations.

“The great majority of providers allowed to use these new codes have had no training in effective communication about what’s most important to people with a serious illness,” Dr. Meier said. “People are not born knowing how to have these conversations any more than they’re born knowing how to do an appendectomy.”

Before health care professionals can pose unnerving what-if questions, truly listen to people’s answers, and help frame a plan, “communication skills need to be practiced and drilled and rehearsed,” Dr. Meier added.

Click here to read the rest of the piece.

U of Utah Launches Value University for Health Care Professionals

On November 11th, the University of Utah Health Care launched Value University, which was covered by Hospitals & Health Networks. The launch furthers the organization’s commitment to transparency and knowledge sharing and is open to all health care professionals.

“ValueU, as it’s being called, includes a national training pilot with a publicly accessible training curriculum, which the University of Utah says takes one hour to complete for continuing education credit. The pilot involves 10 health care organizations that will learn and share ways to create high-value health care. The program, developed with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will use University of Utah processes.”

Learn more about the launch and ValueU here.

CBS Covers Palliative Care: Features Amy Berman and Diane E. Meier, MD

CBS Evening News ran a segment exploring the major policy shift with Medicare announcing will now pay for advanced care planning discussions. CAPC Director Diane E. Meier, MD and Amy Berman, a former nurse living with stage IV breast cancer, sat down to discuss what this shift means and how it can help to improve the quality of life for patients living with serious illness and their families. Here’s an excerpt from the segment:

“One doctor was perfection. She said we can try to hold back the cancer, but not do things that are unnecessary,” Berman explained. “I went to another doctor and this other doctor wanted to do the complete opposite kind of care, wanted to throw everything at the cancer, even though it wasn’t going to change the outcome.”

Berman chose only those treatments that ease pain.

“I really wanted to focus on living the best possible quality of life,” she said.

Dr. Diane Meier directs the Center to Advance Palliative Care, an emerging field of medicine that focuses on a patient’s quality of life.

“At the outset of a serious illness it’s very important to talk with patients and families about what they can expect what is the natural history of this disease course, what is the time frame,” said Dr. Meier.

To watch the full segment, click here.

CMS Finalizes Advance Care Planning Regulation

MedPage Today reported the release of the final rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding reimbursement for clinicians who conduct advance care planning (ACP) conversations with their patients who are seriously ill. The ruling, which is a victory for patients, highlights the importance of the patient-clinician relationship and recognizes the time necessary to develop these relationships.

“It’s a huge step forward for healthcare’s major payer to recognize that the doctor-patient relationship is important, should be prioritized, and should be compensated, and that the time spent building it should be compensated,” said Diane Meier, MD, director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care and professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “The time spent talking about what’s important to patients and how we accomplish that is valuable.”

For decades, she said in a phone interview with MedPage Today, the healthcare system “has been saying the opposite: ‘The only thing valuable is something we do to you.’ The so-called cognitive services — not just thinking about a patient’s problem but also communicating with them — has never been prioritized in the payment schedule … In a sense, it’s precedent-setting.”

Read the full article here.

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