It is possible for providers to ensure the quality of palliative care for patients living with serious illness, according to a NEJM Catalyst blog post.
Diane E. Meier, M.D., director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care at Mount Sinai in New York City, recommends several tactics to help ensure medical care is of high value to these patients. Here are three:
- Ask patients what they want. Be direct and ask patients and their families what matters most to them. Record that information in the medical record to make sure clinicians use it when making decisions about care.
- Provide basic training. Make it mandatory for clinicians to receive basic training and certification in pain and symptom management, communication and coordination of care, she recommends.
- Coordinate access to care. Meire suggests that providers facilitate access to high-quality palliative services for all people with serious illness regardless of age, stage of the disease or care setting.
Physicians should not wait for patients or families to bring up the subject of palliative care, according to an article in Ohio's Circleville Herald. Charles F. von Gunten, M.D., vice president of medical affairs, hospice and palliative medicine for OhioHealth, said talking about palliative care helps patients and family members, who can hope for the best but plan for the worst.
Adding to the difficulties that patients face when they are diagnosed with a serious illness is the lack of cohesive services in their community, according to a researcher from Northern Arizona University (NAU). However, as FiercePracticeManagement previously reported, outpatient palliative care has grown in recent years with positive results.