Hospice Basics, Palliative Care
January 17, 2020

For Clinicians: Comparing Hospice and Palliative Care


When your seriously-ill patient needs support, what are your options?

Clinicians understand that palliative care and hospice introduce comfort care when a patient with complex needs requires additional resources and support. Where once a physician said, “I’m sorry. There is nothing more we can do,” palliative care and hospice care provide options.

They can do so much: provide home visits, manage symptoms and meds, extend psychosocial support. Most importantly, they help introduce conversations about goals of care, values and end-of-life wishes. Palliative care and hospice open up new doors for patients and their families.

Get to know their differences so you can assure that your most complex cases get the care they need.

Palliative care indicators:

  • A prognosis of more than six months
  • A reduced response to disease-directed treatments

Palliative care services: Monthly or twice-monthly visits to home or a medical facility, as indicated, for symptom management, medication reconciliation and advance care planning

After hours: Some support may be available

Team: Physician and APRN, or equivalent

Coverage: Medicare Part B, Medicaid and some commercial insurance plans. Some treatments and drugs may not be covered. Subject to co-pay.

Grief and spiritual support: May be available

Hospice care indicators:

  • A prognosis of less than six months
  • No longer effective response to disease-directed treatments

Hospice care services at VITAS: 5-7 home visits per week, wherever the patient calls home, to meet the patient’s changing needs; from basic care to complex modalities

Four levels of care: Routine home care, intensive care at home, inpatient care, and respite care (when the caretaker needs a break)

After hours: 24/7/365 clinical support when medically necessary

Team: Physician, RN, aide, social worker, chaplain, volunteer, specialist therapists, as needed

Deliveries: Home medical equipment, medications and supplies to keep the patient comfortable

Coverage: Medicare, Medicaid, commercial insurance, self-pay. Generally no co-pay with 100% insurance coverage

Grief and spiritual support: Available to loved ones for 13 months following the death

Palliative Care and Hospice: A Partnership

Palliative care and hospice aren’t an either/or choice. They work together to transition your patients from curative care to comfort care. 

They open communication with the curative team, pass that information along to the palliative team and inform the hospice team of goals, wishes, values and preferences. They establish goals of care and advance directives, at the same time opening the lines of communication within the patient’s family.

Together, palliative care and hospice ensure the right medical care at the right time in the right location of care.

When your patient is no longer responding to curative care, VITAS is available 24/7/365. Check our eligibility guidelines and refer today.


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