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A Hospice Partnership: Working with VITAS

National Hospice Accounts

The VITAS National Accounts Department expands hospice access by establishing strategic partnerships with:

  • Managed Care Organizations
  • Care Management Companies
  • Assisted Living Companies
  • Long-Term Care Providers
  • Disease Management Companies
  • Hospital Systems

VITAS is committed to improving the quality of end-of-life care you offer your members, increasing patient and family satisfaction and helping your organization manage the medical cost ratio.

VITAS provides our partners with the tools they need to serve those patients who can benefit from quality, compassionate end-of-life care. These tools include:

  • Comprehensive Continuing Education Programs
  • Customized Reporting
  • Outcomes Research
  • Member Awareness Programs
  • Centralized Billing/Contract Administration
  • Dedicated National Account Manager

Healthcare is changing. Managed care is changing. Healthcare consumers are changing. VITAS can help.

Rising healthcare costs and implementation of the Affordable Care Act have set into motion countless studies, projects and initiatives designed to reduce costs, improve quality of care, and document measurable savings for government programs and managed care companies.

Hospitals are coping with new regulations and penalties for providing what is determined to be inappropriate care. Readmissions, in particular, are measured and monitored. Nationwide, public-private partnerships are being formed to, among other goals, reduce readmissions of high-risk Medicare recipients.

At the same time, healthcare reform is encouraging and enabling consumers to be more involved in their own well-being. They are better educated and more proactive than previous generations. They want to understand their illnesses, prognoses and options.

VITAS has more than 35 years of experience in improving the quality of end-of-life care, increasing patient and family satisfaction, and helping our partners overcome challenges in caring for chronic and terminally ill patients. We reduce costs, manage transitions from one care setting to another, work as a team and empower patients and families.

What can VITAS do for you?

As a national preferred hospice provider, VITAS can better care for your members in the most appropriate clinical setting at a lower cost.

VITAS reduces your cost of care

Palliative care in a hospice setting is much lower in cost than high-acuity care in a curative setting. Hospice care can eliminate expensive but futile medical procedures and unnecessary prescription drug therapies, reduce visits to the Emergency Department and reduce hospital admissions. This is particularly important for managed care organizations, which have the opportunity to shift costs out of the traditional medical setting entirely and into hospice care.

As the most efficient national hospice provider with sophisticated technical resources, VITAS is best equipped to work with national partners to offer quality, cost-effective care solutions. Just as importantly, VITAS can bring you new value by offering your members services not available through local, regional or other national hospice organizations.

Through support services including data sharing, continuing education and consultation on end-of-life care, VITAS is a trusted partner with large healthcare organizations across the country.

VITAS understands the palliative care model

Palliative care and hospice both care for patients with a high symptom burden who are seriously ill. VITAS is the palliative care expert, staffed with professionals who recognize the appropriate hospice patient and can help patients and families choose the model of care appropriate for them based on symptoms, goals, prognosis, culture and more.

  • Hospice is an interdisciplinary team caring for the actively dying.
  • Palliative care is a consultative physician and nurse practitioner model bringing hospice principles upstream to those with life-threatening—but not necessarily life-limiting—illness. 
  • Palliative care is for patients with serious, possibly life-threatening illness but with a prognosis greater than six months; it is appropriate at any point in a serious illness, simultaneous with disease-modifying treatment.
  • Palliative care and hospice care form a continuum model of care: where palliative care ends and hospice begins is a fluid border.

VITAS addresses readmissions

Hospitals judged to have unmet patient expectations, extensive lengths of stay, skewed mortality rates and costly readmissions are penalized by the government. By changing their care coordination paradigms, hospitals that partner with VITAS:

  • Provide a seamless system of care for their highest acuity patients near the end of life
  • Reduce utilization of intensive services, readmissions and mortality rates
  • Decrease lengths of stay  to improve Emergency Department capacities 
  • Enhance patient satisfaction scores

When a hospitalized patient is appropriately referred to VITAS, our patient-centered services enhance the hospital’s ability to remain viable and competitive while offering the patient and family these benefits:

  • Transitioning end-of-life patients to home
  • Providing an average of five to six visits per patient per week from our hospice team
  • 24-hour access to VITAS staff who have patient information and can quickly dispatch a team member to the bedside 24/7/365
  • Shifts of continuous care, when appropriate, in the patient’s home, nursing home or assisted living community until symptoms are under control
  • Death attendance by a VITAS clinician for over 95 percent of patients.

VITAS is the care transitions expert

It is during care transitions that patients are most vulnerable: when one team hands off care, concern and focus to a whole new team, often in a whole new setting. The only constant is the patient and family. Done improperly and without follow-up, care transitions lead to increased need for medical intervention and more likely hospital readmission.

In this respect, end-of-life care is a microcosm of the general healthcare scenario. Without hospice, the end of life can be a traumatic series of frightened phone calls, midnight trips to the ED, repeated vigils in an ICU, pain and anguish. Getting hospice into that scenario changes the journey, the costs, and patient and family satisfaction.

Here’s how VITAS treats care transitions:

  • Intensive Comfort Care®—Designed to avoid rehospitalization, Intensive Comfort Care brings emergency care to the patient’s home when medically necessary.
  • Inpatient hospice unit—This is often the oasis of calm where patients’ symptoms are controlled, medications are managed, and comfort and dignity are established.
  • Physician care—Many hospitalized patients are cared for by hospitalists, which leaves a gap when they return home. VITAS assesses its patients within 24 hours and can triage to get a hospice physician to the bedside as needed. VITAS clinicians are prepared to have the palliative/hospice discussion if the patient’s physician is unavailable or requests our help.
  • Home care team—Even without a change in care settings, being admitted to VITAS is a transition for both the family and the patient. Team managers address that transition with phone calls to let patient and family know what to expect and whom to expect. Managers also know what phone numbers the family needs and how to check on delivery  of medicine and supplies.
  • Proactive phone calls—Whether because of a recent transition or another identified concern, VITAS has staff and volunteers who place calls evenings and weekends to see how patients are doing. The whole VITAS team is alert for transition needs: Perhaps a visit from a Paw Pal will help transition a patient to hospice, or a visit from a veteran liaison will help a family member in the transition through bereavement. Proactive care lets patients and families know they can count on VITAS. 

VITAS increases patient satisfaction

VITAS provides multiple end-of-life choices for hospice patients and families that go well beyond the accepted standards, giving your members a significant advantage. Not only will they gain access to quality, compassionate hospice services across the country, but they also will enjoy benefits and conveniences such as our 24/7/365 Telecare services and online referrals. As a national preferred hospice provider, VITAS delivers valuable benefits that will be reflected in your own member satisfaction scores.

VITAS improves quality of care

For more than 35 years, VITAS has worked each day to optimize patient care and make transitions easier, more efficient and less costly. As America’s hospice leader, we are committed to quality and innovation in end-of-life care.

VITAS has established clinical protocols that set national hospice standards. We employ dedicated hospice experts, from physicians to nurses and hospice aides, and then provide them with additional extensive training. As a result, VITAS has achieved national outcomes that speak for themselves. Most importantly, VITAS’ clinical leadership and expertise have improved the quality of life for the terminally ill by providing appropriate, effective, customized care plans and effective pain management.