Abeer Yassine

Abeer is the MVC Hospital Engagement Associate

Palliative care programs aim to maximize patient comfort, relieve distress, and provide support to patients and their families.  Patients do not need to be diagnosed as terminal to benefit from palliative care. Studies have found palliative care programs increase patient satisfaction with treatment while decreasing costs.  As a result, health care organizations around the nation are working on introducing or strengthening palliative care programs to help advocate for more holistic patient care beyond the chronic illness.

According to America’s Care of Serious Illness: 2015 state-by-state report card on access to palliative care in our nation’s hospitals by the National Palliative Care Registry, Ohio has a 2015 Report Card letter grade of A, compared to Michigan’s B grade.1 In this report, hospitals were given a letter grade of A-F based on its access to palliative care programs.Despite its benefits, physician referrals to palliative care are low – only 13% of cardiac patients are referred to palliative care.2  To improve access, some outpatient clinics in Ohio have partnered with community-based programs specializing in palliative care.  In addition to providing care to the patient, the community-based program offers education to clinicians on what palliative care entails and how to refer patients.

Similarly, a recent study at John Hopkins Medical Institution (JHMI) explored the cost-effectiveness of its existing palliative care program to determine whether an expansion was warranted. By using admissions data, JHMI studied the financial outcomes of their palliative care program on patient care over the course of 13 months. The impact of the palliative care program was significant, as there was a total positive financial payoff of nearly $3.5 million for the health system. This financial impact emphasizes that value-based program models focusing on patient-centered care not only benefit the patient experience but also benefit health system finances. More about this study and the methods used can be found here: http://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/JOP.2016.014860

Nonetheless, palliative care programs across the nation are each unique and beneficial in their own ways. Some health systems have taken a community approach to palliative care, while others seek to strengthen their programs through clinical fellowships, consultation programs, and expansion. Following the CHF workgroup last month, the Coordinating Center created a Palliative Care and CHF brochure that highlights different facts, figures, and initiatives related to palliative care that can be helpful for hospitals interested in refining or expanding their respective programs. This can be found in the MVC Registry under Resources. For more information on the brochure or workgroup, please contact Deby (debevans@med.umich.edu) or Abeer (abeery@med.umich.edu).

Also keep an eye out for future blog posts highlighting hospitals in Michigan that have exceptional palliative care programs and emphasize a positive patient experience!


1 National Palliative Care Registry. America’s Care of Serious Illness: 2015 state-by-state report card on access to palliative care in our nation’s hospitals. https://registry.capc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2015-State-by-state-Report-Card.pdf

2 National Palliative Care Registry. How we work: Trends and Insights in Hospital Palliative Care https://registry.capc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/How-We-Work-Trends-and-Insights-in-Hospital-Palliative-Care-2009-2015.pdf