From time to time, clients inquire if there is a single factor which keeps communities, in general, and hospital/health systems, specifically, from realizing the full potential of palliative care. Our analyses of the Dartmouth Medical Atlas suggests to us that HOW communities are ORGANIZED to deliver and distribute palliative care may be the single most important determinant of success.
Drawing a composite picture of a hospital’s (and community's) palliative care performance from palliative outcome indicators can reveal lots about performance in meeting the needs of those with advanced illness. Our study of better-performing communities identifies several attributes shared by these exemplar palliative care communities (much has been written recently about one of these Exemplars - LaCrosse, Wisconsin). These shared attributes are:
• Multiple Points of Patient Access
• Multiple Sources of Reimbursement and Mechanisms to Enable Internal Pricing and Transfers
• Chief Palliative Care Officer
• Protocols/Tools Span Settings of Care
• Relentless Collection of Data and Focus on Accumulating and Disseminating Knowledge of Best Practices.
We refer to virtual structures possessing these attributes as Accountable Palliative Care Organizations (APCOs). In coming posts, I'll offer more detail on why these attributes matter, and why APCOs are so difficult to develop. In the meantime, I'm curious to learn your thoughts, and how your assessment of current late-life care practices in your communities confirms or refutes this organizational model.
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