Unlock the collaborative benefits of Palliative Care for your patients

Encouraging patients with a serious illness to enroll in palliative care for specialized, comprehensive support can improve their quality of life. Healthcare providers and others in the healthcare community must work together to initiate conversations, dispel misconceptions, and empower patients to embrace the collaborative benefits of palliative care for better well-being.

Patients with serious illnesses, such as cancer, dementia, or lung disease, often face numerous challenges, including frequent hospital visits, financial hardship, increased stress, and diminished well-being.

Palliative care improves patients’ well-being, and in some cases, it may even extend their life. Unfortunately, patients may not know about palliative care or understand what it provides. By initiating conversations with qualifying patients, emphasizing their role in decision-making, and easing common misconceptions, you can empower patients to embrace the collaborative benefits of palliative care.

Enhancing patients' quality of life

Patients living with a serious illness deserve the best whole-person care.

Palliative care presents a holistic approach to address patient health issues that coexist with the treatment of the primary condition. The goal is to enhance the patient’s quality of life with additional care services while they continue treatment.

You can continue to care for them while benefiting from a collaborative, clinical care team. Palliative care teams often include advanced practice providers, nurses, and social workers who can deliver holistic, wraparound support and services for patients' physical, behavioral, and spiritual health.

Benefits include:

  • A dedicated, specialized team to oversee their treatment plan.
  • 24/7 virtual and telephone support.
  • Comprehensive assessments and individualized care plans.
  • Disease control, symptom management, and pain control.
  • Medicine management to improve adherence.
  • Tailored therapies and nonpharmacological interventions.
  • Reduced costs by preventing inpatient hospitalizations and emergency room visits.
  • Advanced care planning and support for end-of-life treatment decisions.
  • Transition to hospice care when necessary.

Initiating the conversation about palliative care

Despite the many benefits of palliative care, patients may not understand how it can help them. They may confuse palliative care with hospice care or end-of-life care, or have other misconceptions or concerns, making them hesitant or scared to learn about it.

The rollercoaster ride of serious illness — including the return or worsening of a disease or symptoms — can also leave patients overwhelmed and deflated. The complexities of juggling numerous appointments, healthcare providers, medicines, and care instructions can take over their life and their caregiver’s.

The collaborative nature of palliative care gives people back their power and their dignity. When discussing this specialized care with qualifying patients, it's important to emphasize that they are in the driver's seat. Ask patients and caregivers about their goals, values, and care preferences. Encourage open communication and shared decision-making and revisit care plan discussions as the illness changes or advances.

To help encourage patients with serious illnesses or complex conditions consider palliative care, you can:

  • Initiate the conversation when they are first diagnosed with their illness — according to the National Institute on Aging , the best time for patients to start this kind of care is right after they are diagnosed.
  • Approach conversations with empathy — patients can often feel overwhelmed and worried about what the future holds, so it's important to let them know that you're aware of how they feel and the emotions they may be going through.
  • Address their concerns — you can help clear up misconceptions and misinformation. Remind them that they can continue to receive care, and even curative treatment, and that palliative care doesn't mean end-of-life care.
  • Reassure them that you are still there for them — let patients know that you will still be a collaborative member of their care journey.

Including palliative care in your practice

According to the Center to Advance Palliative Care , at least 12 million adults and nearly 400,000 children in the United States are living with a serious illness and could benefit from palliative care. It's crucial for the health community to collectively recognize that palliative care has many benefits for patients, and the sooner they get the comprehensive care they need, the sooner they can improve their quality of life.

Ongoing encouragement and involvement from primary care doctors are key for a seamless and effective palliative care experience. If your goal is to achieve value-based, patient-centric care, it's time to start talking to your patients about palliative care.

Learn more about Carelon Health's approach and services at Palliative Care.