A healthcare worker takes the temperature of a woman in a hospital bed who wears a mask for supplemental oxygen

VITAS Advantage: Case Study on Complex Modalities for Hospitals

Home-based Palliative Care for Seriously Ill Cardiovascular Patients Can Alleviate Use of Intensive Services for Hospitals

Clinicians caring for patients with advanced cardiovascular disease are encouraged to consult with palliative care professionals to ensure patients receive optimal guidance around complex medical decision-making.

A main consideration is the patient’s preferred setting for care, according to the authors of an article published in Cardiology Magazine, a publication of the American College of Cardiology. Studies show that most severely ill patients prefer to be at home with hospice care rather than in a hospital.

This important finding is particularly relevant during COVID-19, the authors point out, with many hospitals stretched to capacity and hospitalized patients isolated from family and friends. “Palliative care can guide, educate, comfort and aid in complex medical decision-making,” they write.

The researchers suggest that clinicians can accelerate palliative care “to ease suffering and provide comfort to patients and families during the COVID-19 epidemic.”

For instance, clinicians can help patients complete advance care planning forms to document their values and preferences, and designate their healthcare decision makers, an activity that reduces unwanted/unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and lowers overall healthcare costs. POLST (physician orders for life sustaining treatments) is a portable document that can be revised or rescinded by the patient at any time.

“Palliative care services can alleviate suffering and may prolong life for patients with serious illness,” the authors conclude. “Patients and families can be given several options for the course of care,” including the choice to be at home with palliative or hospice care for symptom management.

The VITAS Advantage

VITAS provides complex modalities for patients whose advanced illness and/or aggressive symptoms require high-acuity care that can be delivered on VITAS services. Much of this care otherwise would have to be provided in an acute or post-acute care setting. Tangible benefits to hospitals include:

  • Overall lower healthcare costs, including reduced Medicare spending per beneficiary
  • Reduced length-of-stay and in-hospital mortality metrics
  • Fewer readmissions to the hospital, emergency department, and intensive care unit
  • Higher satisfaction with care
  • Provision of end-of-life care that matches and honors patients’ goals and wishes

Source: Mulrow, J. & Doherty, C. (2020) Palliative Care Considerations for Patients with Cardiovascular Disease Under COVID-19. Cardiology Magazine, April 9, 2020, American College of Cardiology “Latest in Cardiology.”

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