The Hospice Referral Process

Is your patient ready for hospice?

At VITAS, we are specialists in end-of-life care. Our hospice teams are trained to understand patients and families as they cope with advanced illness and to manage healthcare transitions to care that aligns with their goals, wishes and values.

How to Refer a Patient to Hospice

Hospice referrals are made by a clinician, and VITAS makes the hospice referral process simple.

We urge all healthcare professionals to have a goals-of-care conversation with your patients—and we can help you facilitate it. Just give us a call. You can also get education about hospice from our webinars and in-person trainings.

We make hospice referrals simple and secure, whether by phone, online or our mobile app. You can ask VITAS to contact you when and how you prefer, and we provide guidelines that help you determine hospice eligibility with confidence.

  1. Determine whether your patient is eligible for hospice care. Hospice has guidelines, both general and disease-specific, to determine patient eligibility. Hospice patients are assessed by their hospice team at regular intervals to determine continued eligibility beyond 6 months. Is your patient eligible? Find hospice-eligibility guidelines here with an interactive PPS Scale.
  2. Have a goals-of-care conversation with your patient and/or their family. An end-of-life conversation with a patient can be difficult, but there are proven ways to make it easier. The best time to talk about end-of-life preferences is early in a patient’s disease. Approach the topic during regular office visits, based on new symptoms, signs of disease progression, options, advance care planning, and facts about how hospice and palliative care can help. You can use our VITAS mobile app to support your conversation with your patients. Patients and families rely on your expertise. If you need help with goals-of-care conversations, rely on trained VITAS staff and readily available resources to help.
  3. Refer. Choose the method that works best for you:
    • From our hospice referral app. Hospice referrals are easy, secure and seamless via mobile form or face sheet capture, both of which result in an in-app confirmation from VITAS. Rely on the app for disease-specific guidelines and interactive assessment tools to determine eligibility. Download the VITAS app now, personalize it based on your role and begin referring patients immediately.
    • With our online hospice referral form. Our secure hospice referral form asks you to identify yourself and provide information about the patient, with contact information.
    • Call VITAS at 855.336.1418 to refer a hospice-eligible patient. A VITAS hospice admissions professional will answer your call at any time of the day or night, 365 days a year. You’ll be asked to provide your own identification information along with the patient’s first and last name, phone number and city, state and ZIP code.

Patients with advanced illness and their families understand the value of time. Make sure that a timely, well-informed hospice referral gives them time when they need it most.

Hospice Referral Facts

Nearly 70% of Americans indicate they would prefer to die at home, if given a choice.1 Hospice care can help patients achieve that goal at end of life.

Patients' families share a favorable view of hospice care:

  • More than 70% of families rate the care as "excellent" when patients received hospice care2
  • Less than 50% of families rate the care as "excellent" when patients died in an institutional setting or with home health services2

One in five people reported that someone in their household had an experience with hospice care in the past year.2 Of those:

  • 87% said they have a positive opinion of hospice3
  • 58% who had a very positive opinion3

Timely hospice referral ensures your patients can receive more care with the VITAS Care model, ensuring we coordinate with your practice and keep the symptoms of their disease managed.

1Kaiser Family Foundation/The Economist Four-Country Survey of Aging and End-of-Life Medical Care (2017). Conducted March 30–May 29, 2016.

2Teno J.M., Clarridge B.R., et al. (2004). Family perspectives on end-of-life care at the last place of care. JAMA, 291(1):88–93.

3Hamel, L., Wu, B., and Brodie, M. (2017). Views and experiences with end-of-life medical care in the U.S. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, CA.