How Palliative Care Provides Evidence-Based Support for Patients
Palliative care refers to an individualized approach to managing a patient’s health when they suffer from a chronic illness. Sometimes known as comprehensive disease management (CDM), palliative care provides the assistance that patients need to navigate, manage, and set goals for their care.
If you have a chronic illnesses, or if you know someone who does, you know that getting healthcare needs met requires a great deal of work, including:
- Scheduling appointments.
- Travel to doctors’ and specialists’ offices.
- Ensuring communication between medical professionals.
- Interpreting your insurance coverage benefits.
- Medication management.
- Medical bills.
- Pharmacy calls.
- Having to consider Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) and Advance Directives.
- Finding emotional and spiritual support.
- And much more.
These challenges, of course, are on top of the pain and other illness-related symptoms that people with chronic illnesses experience. A person in excellent health would still likely feel overwhelmed by all of these tasks.
Fortunately, palliative care exists to help patients who are overwhelmed by all it takes to handle a chronic illness. The goal of this form of care is to help you tackle care-related responsibilities. A nurse case manager can take over your care coordination by communicating with you and your healthcare professionals to help you manage your chronic illness. Services can lead to an improved quality of life and help patients gain access to community resources as needed.
What the Research Says About the Benefits of Palliative Care
Several studies have found that receiving palliative care at home, a component of Phoenix’s Comprehensive Disease Management program, can help patients stay out of the hospital, reduce their medical bills, and manage and control their symptoms.
- According to Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute study of comprehensive disease management programs, those with chronic illnesses, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and many others, make up 78% of all healthcare spending in the United States.
- The Health Policy Institute’s profile of this service begins by studying one major reason palliative care exists: to ensure that patients with chronic illnesses – 44% of Americans – don’t have to carry the burden of expenditures just because of their condition.
- The Disease Management Association of America found that patients with congestive heart failure who received palliative care at home experienced the following outcomes:
- Patients saved almost 20% on healthcare costs.
- Patients spent 39% less time in the hospital.
- Patients were more likely to consistently take prescription medications.
- The Health Policy Institute also cites additional studies from the New England Journal of Medicine and the Archives of Internal Medicine, which also document a higher quality life for study participants 50 years of age or older who enrolled in a comprehensive disease management or palliative care program.
- In a Diabetes Care study on palliative care, researchers noted that patient satisfaction reached 90%, and an astounding 90% of physicians agreed that the comprehensive care this group received was “good to excellent.”
- Research from University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute echoes the case studies cited by Georgetown, describing the following general benefits of comprehensive disease management programs, outside of savings:
- Improved quality of life
- Increased program effectiveness
- Improved health outcomes for chronically ill patients
- Reduced hospitalizations and morbidity for heart failure patients
How to Find Palliative Care for Yourself or a Loved One
It is clear that research institutions and medical journals show that palliative care at home is an effective service for patients.
However, it is important to recognize that comprehensive disease management and palliative care programs are not all the same. They depend primarily on how they are directed, what services the comprehensive care team is able to provide, and the expertise of the CDM nurse who manages your care.
To vet a palliative care team, research their program to see if they offer the following:
- Does the team offer comprehensive care with the goal of utilizing all available services to benefit the patient?
- Do they mention the benefits of this form of care, including savings and quality of life?
- Are they committed to individualizing the patient’s care for their specific needs and goals?
- Do they go the extra mile to find community resources that can benefit the patient, as well as professional assistance with advanced care planning (DPOA papers and advanced care directives)?
You may also be able to schedule free no-obligation consultation with an exceptional home care and hospice team. This will ensure you can partner effectively with their team. Explore more researched articles on other healthcare topics, including family caregiving and mindfulness here.