Quality Initiative For Hospice Care Launched In Rim Country

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While many U.S. health care providers try to keep up with changing regulations designed to improve quality care and patient outcomes, one of the nation’s leading hospice providers is taking a voluntary, proactive lead in setting new quality standards for the hospice industry.

Hospice Compassus, a Nashville, Tenn.-based company that operates a nationwide network of community-based hospice programs, including a program in Payson, recently launched its National Quality Care Initiative in Scottsdale during a meeting of more than 200 of its top colleagues and medical advisers, the company said in a press release.

“Keeping the Promise 2012” is an effort to achieve delivery of the highest possible quality care to hospice patients in Payson and across the U.S.”

Former Sen. William “Bill” Frist, M.D. delivered the keynote address at the event and joined some of the nation’s most recognized and influential hospice and palliative care physicians in supporting the initiative.

“Because of my personal experience in public service and in health care, I have a unique perspective on how policy shapes our health care system. There is a lot of focus at the federal level and within the medical community on improving quality outcomes for patients,” said Frist.

“I think real change and progress occurs, however, not when businesses are forced to comply with mandates, but when professionals who work every day in a given field recognize a need, develop an innovative solution, and then act on it. I applaud Hospice Compassus for their vision and fully support their effort to improve their own performance and challenge the rest of the hospice industry to meet the highest standards.”

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is scheduled to release a set of hospice quality measures in 2012, and hospice programs will be required to publicly report on the measures in 2014. Hospice Compassus has voluntarily tracked its own quality data since January 2011, meaning the company will be able to report on a full three years of meaningful quality data by the time other hospice programs are required to report by CMS.

The primary quality indicators in Keeping the Promise 2012 are patients’ pain levels and the education they receive regarding medication, treatment and symptoms. Hospice Compassus is tracking these and other indicators to measure its performance against self-imposed quality standards.

“Hospice providers serve in a clinical and compassionate role that is very important yet drastically underutilized in the continuum of care. All health care is about helping those in need, and hospice and palliative care alleviates suffering and improves the quality of life,” said Dr. Paul Gilbert, medical director of Hospice Compassus Payson.

More than 1 million people in the U.S. receive hospice care each year, although as many as 50 percent of those who have the option of hospice care never access the benefits. A study of the non-hospice end-of-life experiences reported that 40 percent of patients were in pain prior to their death, and 25 percent experienced moderate to great anxiety or depression before they died.

“We will continue delivering the most compassionate care to patients and their families, and by measuring our quality we will improve our service here in Payson, and set a new standard for all hospice providers across the U.S. That is what Keeping the Promise 2012 is about. That is what we are going to achieve,” said Mary Jane Rogers, executive director of Hospice Compassus in Payson.

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