Outpatient Palliative Care Might Be Right for Your Patients

1/25/2017

Palliative care providers work together with a patient’s other physicians to deliver an extra layer of support. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. Palliative Care providers are consulted by the patient’s physician and work alongside other providers, delivering treatment concurrently with disease-directed therapies.

Unlike Hospice Care, Palliative Care can be offered on an outpatient basis for patients, in addition to continuing regular visits with their primary care physician and/or specialists.  Palliative Care does not replace the primary care physician.  Additionally, Palliative Care can be billed to Medicare Part B and it does not interfere with home health or primary care services.

Palliative care is a specialty that focuses on the relief of pain, symptoms and stress of a serious illness. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage of a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment. Palliative Care providers are consulted by the patient’s attending physician and they work alongside the patient’s other providers, delivering treatment concurrently with disease-directed therapies. Palliative Care does not replace the primary care physician. The Palliative Care team will work with the patient’s primary care physician to address symptoms and facilitate discussions of the patient’s treatment goals.

A Palliative Care consultation will help to improve the quality of life for patients and families who may also be seeking curative/restorative treatment for their serious illness. By better matching treatment plans to patient goals and providing support where it is needed, palliative care has been shown to reduce the need for unnecessary and unwanted services. Palliative Care reduces health care utilization precisely because it addresses the root causes of acute care utilization-suboptimal management of pain and symptoms, lack of understanding of illness and its progression, and overwhelming caregiver stress and burden.

Palliative Care can be provided in any setting including, hospitals, patients’ homes, nursing homes, office practices and cancer centers.  Patients do not need to be terminally ill to receive Palliative Care.  In fact, earlier use of Palliative Care ensures better quality of care and minimizes the need for crisis care. Palliative Care teams included a Board-certified palliative care physician and an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). The APRN performs the consultation for the patient including an initial evaluation and any follow-up visits as needed. The physician supports the APRN through a specific collaborative practice model.

Palliative Care services are consultative and are billed by Medicare Part B.  Billing for Palliative Care does not interfere with billing for primary care services or home health services. 

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