Providers urged to improve advanced illness care

nurse with patient in a wheelchair
Care providers need more guidance on how to meet the needs of people with advanced illness.

A new issue brief from National Quality Partners calls on families, medical providers, social services and communities to create a sense of urgency to meet the needs of people with advanced illness.

With that issue in mind, the National Quality Forum created the NQP action team to spur stakeholder discussions about those care needs.

The issue brief highlights six key preferences in person-centered care, provides snapshots of organizations that address these needs and pinpoints opportunities to use measurement to transform advanced illness care. 

Advanced illness may result in impairment of daily activities, reduced mental and physical capabilities, frequent doctor visits in a highly fragmented healthcare system and stress among family and caregivers, it points out.

RELATED: Early palliative care can save money, reduce patient stay in hospital

The report focuses on patients’ six top preferences: purpose and connection; physical comfort; emotional and psychological well-being; family and caregiver support; financial security; and peaceful death and dying.

For instance, it notes that 80% of advanced cancer patients cite religion and spirituality as essential to coping with illness, yet 70% say these needs are not being met by the medical system, according to 2007 research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Meanwhile, the NQP action team points to responses such as The California State University Institute for Palliative Care and HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, which has defined 11 competencies for professional chaplains who provide palliative and end-of-life care.

And while it notes that in January, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services approved payments for clinicians who have advance care planning conversations with patients and family members, many aren’t sure how to manage that part of the care process and need more guidance in that area.

RELATED: Making end-of-life conversations common practice remains uphill battle

“Building on the movement towards person-centered advanced illness care, the time is now to bridge medical care, social services, and community assistance to form a stronger support network for individuals with advanced illness and their families and caregivers,” the report concludes.

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