By Lydia Ahn, RN, PHN

What is outpatient palliative care?

While the number of hospital-based palliative care programs has grown considerably over the last several years, there are very few options for outpatient or home-based palliative care programs. There is a great need for the delivery of palliative care services in the community and home-based settings. Evergreen has designed an Outpatient Palliative Care Program to focus on improving life and relieving symptoms of pain and stress to people with end-of-life illnesses, or highly frail patients with serious, chronic and life-threatening illnesses, in the comfort of their home. The goal is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and the family in a coordinated model of care. Evergreen’s Palliative Care Program offers 24/7 pain and symptom management, emotional support, family support and communication to ensure that patient needs and health goals are met and unnecessary hospitalization and ER visits are avoided. Evergreen’s highly coordinated model of care collaborates with the IPA, allowing the primary care physicians to serve the patient with quality and efficiency. Evergreen’s enhanced case management provides positive outcomes across the continuum of care, from intake to nursing and spiritual guidance.

What is the difference between hospice care and palliative care?

Hospice care provides terminally ill patients with medical, psychological and spiritual support to give them peace and comfort in their last days. Evergreen’s Palliative Care Program provides pain and symptom management with psychological and spiritual support while receiving curative care by a primary care provider.

Who provides palliative care

Evergreen’s Palliative Care team is comprised of an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and more who are highly experienced in hospice care. The palliative care team works cohesively to improve the health and well-being of the patient.

What are the benefits to a health plan or medical groups for outpatient palliative care?

Patients with complex and serious illnesses often have frequent non-beneficial hospitalizations and ER visits. By providing highly coordinated 24/7 interdisciplinary palliative care available in the home, Evergreen has been able to reduce hospitalizations and ER visits while improving the care of the patient. In addition, Evergreen coordinates outpatient procedures such as blood transfusions, PICC line insertion, X-rays, and scans. With 24/7 coverage by a highly trained triage RN, Evergreen is able to send a nurse out as the patient’s condition exacerbates and initiate measures which may prevent an ER visit. Evergreen’s palliative care physicians and nurse practitioners are available to serve nurses and patients and coordinate with staff. Hospital physicians in the Evergreen Palliative Care Program are available for consultation. In addition, Evergreen has on-going interdisciplinary team meetings every two weeks in which the emotional, psychosocial and clinical needs of the patient are discussed. The seamless integration of palliative care services results in a high degree of patient satisfaction.

What is the future of outpatient palliative care?

Although studies have found that patients benefit greatly from palliative care in the course of serious illness, it is not always accessible to them. Issues such as reimbursement, for example, may limit access to palliative care. Evergreen is currently engaged in several analysis projects with its clients to study both the clinical and financial benefits of more accessible palliative care in the home-based setting.

Why is palliative care necessary?

Being diagnosed with a serious illness can be overwhelming for the patient and their family. Palliative care experts provide the patient and family with guidance and the knowledge necessary to select treatment options.

Where do you find palliative care?

Evergreen’s Hospice Care and Palliative Care Programs can be provided at a home, an assisted living facility or at a nursing home.

Does insurance cover Palliative Care?

Many private insurance companies and HMOs offer palliative care benefits. Medicare (ages 65 and older) offers hospice benefits, and the extra Medicare plan (Part B) offers some palliative care benefits. Medicaid coverage of hospice and palliative care varies by state.

Nondiscrimination Policy:

Evergreen Hospice Care, Inc. does not exclude or deny benefits, or otherwise discriminate against any person on the basis of race, religion, age, color, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, communicable disease or place of national origin.