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Are You Considering Launching a Palliative Care Program?

Too many palliative care programs are launched without sufficient planning. This causes everyone a lot of unnecessary stress while depriving the patient of the care they need. Before you launch or upgrade your palliative care program, slow down, review the following critical considerations, and formulate a long-term and sustainable strategy. Bring the following list to your next planning session and expect a rich discussion!

      1. You need to know what you don’t know. Anecdotal information from staff, referral sources, and community members about the need for palliative care is helpful – but it isn’t enough. Be sure to spend time gathering data about the population(s) you hope to serve, the needs of potential referral sources, and your potential partners.
      2. Demonstrating the success of your program depends upon the metrics you put in place before you launch. Whether you are “going it alone” or partnering with a payer or provider, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate how your program is improving patient care, operating at peak efficiency, and saving the healthcare system money. If you aren’t measuring it, you can’t prove it. Learn more about metrics here.

“The biggest predictor of the success of a program wasn’t the size or type of the organization or the clinical skills of the team. The biggest predictor was whether the organization was committed to integrating palliative care…”
Helen McNeal, Executive Director

      1. Community-based palliative care programs can work using the fee-for-service model if you create accurate staffing models. It’s hard to create an accurate budget for a new community-based palliative care (CBPC) program – especially if you don’t have a referral source with a large population of eligible patients. We recommend that you create your budget with multiple patient census estimates – low, medium, and high – so you can figure out how to flex staff if the CBPC census is fluctuating.
      2. Developing a sustainable community-based palliative care program takes time. If your organization is working on a fast-track implementation schedule then you’ll need an implementation team to help you, and you might benefit from an experienced consultant to facilitate the process and develop resources. Enroll in the How to Get Started course to see all that is entailed in the development process.
      3. Everyone in your organization needs palliative care training. Have you ever called an organization that you know has palliative care, only to have someone tell you that she’s never heard of it? Large and small organizations need to invest in palliative care training – teaching everyone the value of palliative care so they can all explain it to anyone who asks.
      4. Learn how to get reimbursed for palliative care services. Are you maximizing your palliative care program’s billing capacity? Since billing fee-for-service Medicare for palliative care is so new, most organizations are unaware of the opportunities that exist to enhance your program’s revenue. Learn more about billing for palliative care services.

Note: The Community-Based Palliative Care Program series has been retired ( July 2020). Contact us to discuss organizational training at 760-750-4006.

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