National Cancer Control Month: Innovative Palliative Care Models Improve Care, Increase Patient Satisfaction
Written by: Terri Maxwell Ph.D., APRN, Chief Clinical Officer
April is National Cancer Control Month, marking a time when many organizations are raising awareness about cancer. In addition to understanding cancer and ways to help prevent it, we think it is a good time to reflect on the positive effects that palliative care has in helping patients and families cope with this disease.
According to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), this year, an estimated half million Americans will lose their lives to cancer, and three times that many will be diagnosed. The good news is that death rates fell between 2010 and 2014 for 11 of the 16 most common cancers in men and for 13 of the most common types in women, including lung, colon, prostate and breast cancers. Declining cancer rates are thought to be a consequence of improved screening and fewer people smoking. Despite these improved statistics, too many people still have their lives shortened by cancer and experience cancer-related pain and other symptoms.
This April, we support the call from CMS to, “ Remember those we have lost, support Americans fighting this disease, and recommit to progress toward effective cancer control.”
Robert is a 72-year-old man with stage IV lung cancer who lives alone. Over the past week, his hip and back pain has worsened, making it difficult to get around and care for himself. He is worried that he won’t be able to manage alone at home and he is awake at night worrying about his future. His oncologist recognizes that Robert would benefit from palliative care and requests a palliative care consult. The palliative care team arranges to make a home visit focused on reducing his stress, helping to control his pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, poor sleep and other symptoms, and discussing his goals. Based upon a comprehensive assessment and goals of care discussion, Robert and the team formulate a patient-centered plan of care to maximize support at home, address his concerns and better manage his symptoms.
Our model, Palliative Illness Management™ (PIM™) is the type of specialized palliative care that Robert needs. Empowered by a proprietary predictive model to identify at-risk members like Robert who would beneﬁt most from community-based palliative care, PIM™ offers an innovative non-medical care model that extends the value of population health management programs.
Standardizing the criteria that trigger palliative care consultations for patients with advanced cancers has been shown to improve the quality of care and reduce 30-day readmissions.
Community-based palliative care teams
Specially trained clinicians, including nurses and social workers, perform home visits and follow-up calls to review symptoms, discuss goals of care, and help him plan ahead. They provide a communications bridge between Robert, his health plan, and his healthcare providers.
PIM™ offers Robert the psychosocial support he needs to enhance decision-making related to goals of care and advance care planning. Robert gains a better understanding of his illness and what is important to him, which includes satisﬁed that his personal averting unnecessary, unwanted care to maximize his quality of life.
PIM™ is Patient-Centered, High Value
In observance of National Cancer Control Month, we hope that more individuals will benefit from emerging new population health approaches such as PIM™. After all, when you are living with a serious illness, quality of life counts.