Thursday October 29, 2009:  Will reform help or hinder the practice of Hospice and Palliative Medicine(HPM)?

Help, if HPM physicians reconfigure themselves into “sought-after practices”. The reconfiguration must be willful and carefully planned, and in advance of implementation of national health reform. In other words, bets must be placed now that the health care delivery system will be restructured, and payment for health services will be revamped.

In upcoming blog posts, we’ll take a close look at likely scenarios, and how the organizational alignment we’ve identified as Advanced Palliative Care Organizations will evolve into Accountable Palliative Care Organizations (APCOs). And, we’ll examine the likely role of HPM physicians in APCOs, or what we refer to as the emerging role of the Chief Palliative Care Officer. This blog will be one forum for this discussion, so your comments and experiences are invited.

Also, we plan a regular publication (HPM Practitioner) that will offer you insights into “bellwether” practices. An upcoming issue will feature the HPM practice in Grand Junction, Colorado, about which I have posted previously.

From our study and research into best practices of palliative care, we’ve developed theories of what differentiates exemplar palliative care communities from others. How HPM physicians are utilized is one distinguishing feature. How they are organized is another. And under health reform, how they are paid will likely be another. Think bundling, and the value of a “network of HPM physicians” tightly organized to increase negotiating (with both payors and providers) clout.


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