At a recent regional (virtual) assembly of hospice executives and Hospice and Palliative Medicine (HPM) physicians who had gathered to strategize about the advantages (and disadvantages) of building a provider network for late-life care, I was asked what tools are available to measure performance of HPM physicians (and nurse practitioners). I suggested turning to the Joint Commission's standards on OPPE (which I have written about previously, read here) for a closer look into how hospitals are expected to evaluate their medical staff practitioners. How might these standards be applied for HPM physicians in the hospice setting? Here's one approach to applying physician performance core competencies to HPM practitioners we've found successful:Patient Care. Providing patient care that is compassionate, appropriate and effective for managing
Medical/Clinical Knowledge. Degree of knowledge of established and evolving practices and principles of HPM, as well as the application of that knowledge to patient care and the education of others.
Practice-based Learning and Improvement. Use of scientific evidence and methods to investigate, evaluate and improve late-life care practices.
Interpersonal and Communication Skills. Establish and maintain professional relationships with patients, families and other members of health care teams.
Professionalism. Commitment to continuous professional development, ethical practice, an understanding and sensitivity to diversity, and a responsible attitude toward patients, the profession and society.
Systems-based Practice. Understanding of the contexts and systems in which palliative care is provided and the ability to apply this knowledge to improve late-life care.
Of course, specific metrics need to be developed to evaluate performance in each of these domains. The metrics will vary from organization to organization and are less important than the process of sitting down to collaboratively develop the metrics. Yet, doing so will take executives and physicians a long way toward satisfying one of the building blocks of a high-performing HPM practitioner staff - to foster an unswerving commitment to performance improvement to minimize unwarranted practice variation, reduce regulatory risk, and win the confidence of referring sources.