Thursday, September 10, 2015

Quality Matters in Palliative Care

by Arif Kamal MD, MHS

Palliative care is at a crossroads. We have for several decades leveraged our tenacity, charisma, and evidence base to transition ourselves from a novel consultative service to the accepted, standard-of-care approach of caring for persons with serious illness and their caregivers. Despite the remarkable integration of our services and care philosophy, we are not immune to the shifting winds of change across all of healthcare. From the upper echelons of healthcare on down, clinicians, administrators, payers, and patients are all evolving they ways they deliver, receive, and evaluate healthcare. Among all the changes and evolutions taking place, one thesis statement summarizes the transformation between the old and new ways: Quality. Now. Matters. And it is how we react to the increasing calls for measuring, reporting, and proving quality of healthcare delivery in specialty palliative care that will dictate the future sustainability and growth of the discipline.

Modern approaches to total quality management depend on a diligent focus by organizations in four key areas: regular implementation of structured quality improvement cycles, transformation to a culture of continuous awareness of service defects, engagement for change by employees across all levels of an organization, and a patient-centric definition of quality that welcomes consumer feedback. Admittedly, these are difficult concepts to master, and harder still to implement. Further, in palliative care, the clinical services we provide are diverse, complex, and demanding. The answers are not always easy, and not often found by leaders outside of our field. Improving the quality of care we deliver is fundamentally the professional responsibility of those who know the discipline from the inside. Although we possess expertise at providing clinical care, developing consultative programs, and growing our field, the fundamental infrastructure to learn, collaborate, and improve our care through an advanced understanding of healthcare quality improvement is missing, and sorely needed.

As a grassroots effort to change this, we at the Global Palliative Care Quality Alliance are hosting the inaugural “Quality Matters Conference” on October 15, 2015. This webinar-based, half-day virtual conference will use short didactic sessions (limit 20 minutes) and open Q and A sessions to address several of these impending changes for our field, and across healthcare. We will discuss topics such as: the national landscape of quality measurement, the Measuring What Matters initiative from AAHPM, evolving reimbursement policies and their links to quality measurement, leadership for change and motivating clinicians, and billing and coding tips for busy clinicians. All the topics center around our theme for the conference, “Innovation through Collaboration,” which highlights the need to band together within the discipline to guide innovations in high-quality palliative care delivery. To emphasize the importance of such education, we will provide complimentary registration and Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) through Duke University (register at www.gpcqa.org/qmc). We hope to provide an informative, collaborative, and engaging environment for palliative care team members of all backgrounds to learn more about palliative care quality.

The collaborative spirit of palliative care is truly one of its greatest strengths. We regularly come together to teach, learn, and grow from each other. We are the model that other disciplines strive to emulate. We look forward to seeing many wonderful colleagues at the upcoming Quality Matters Conference to learn how we can all play a vital role in improving the experience of those with serious illness and their caregivers, one quality improvement initiative at a time.

We will also be talking about quality initiatives in palliative care during the September 16th #hpm chat. We hope you can join us then. Details are below.

Dr Arif Kamal (@arifkamalmd) is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Duke University. His research is focused on palliative care outcomes, quality, and professional burnout.

What: #hpm chat on Twitter
When: Wed September 16, 2015 - 9p ET/ 6p PT
Host: Dr. Arif Kamal (@arifkamalmd)

Follow @hpmchat on Twitter for all the latest on #hpm chats.

If you are new to Tweetchats, you do not need a Twitter account to follow along. Try using the search function on Twitter. If you do have a Twitter account, we recommend using a chat client like Tchat.io or Tweetdeck for ease of following.

You can access the transcripts and analytics of #hpm chats through @Symplur. 

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