Press release from Four Seasons Compassion for Life:
A regional and national leader in the advancement of palliative medicine, Four Seasons Compassion for Life recently completed a three-year grant with a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Healthcare Innovation (CMMI) award focused on expanding community-based palliative care, improving patient outcomes, and improving patient/family satisfaction while reducing healthcare costs.
Four Seasons’ community-based palliative care delivery model is one of the best examples of this type of care in the U.S., integrating inpatient and outpatient care, and thereby spanning all settings through which patients with advanced illnesses transition: hospital, clinic, home, assisted living facility, and nursing home. The seamless coordination of a centralized care plan across all sites of healthcare delivery within the patient’s community represents state-of-the-art care within the palliative care spectrum, placing the Four Seasons program at the forefront of the movement to implement, evaluate, and demonstrate community-based palliative care in the U.S. One of the primary outcomes of the program has been to utilize the results to propose an alternative financing approach for community-based palliative care within the Medicare program.
“Clinically speaking, palliative care acts as an extra layer of support for patients living with the effects of serious, life-limiting illness on a daily basis,” said Janet Bull, MD, chief medical officer for Four Seasons. “The CMMI grant has allowed our organizations to partner with other regional healthcare leaders to create a program that will ensure these patients receive direct and comprehensive care where they live. We are confident that more patients will now receive this type of care in the long term.”
The interdisciplinary community-based palliative care team consists of physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, social workers, and chaplains. Services within the Four Seasons model include symptom management, social work, disease management education, advance care planning, support with complex medical decisions, psychosocial support, and patient/family education. To improve care for minority patients, the model involves hospital-based translator services, and includes cultural competency as part of provider training. The community-based palliative care clinical team is trained to provide patient/family-centered, culturally competent care to western North Carolina communities, creating a comprehensive catchment net for vulnerable populations.
“This generous grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid has allowed us to make significant advancements in palliative medicine for patients across the regions we serve as well as patients across the nation,” said Millicent Burke-Sinclair, Ed.D, chief executive officer for Four Seasons. “I’m confident that the success achieved by reaching the goals set forth for this program will be a cornerstone for improved healthcare outcomes for patients across the country for years to come.”
The Four Seasons model has also implemented telehealth tools that have proven successful for the advancement of palliative care in rural settings. By utilizing an application called Tapcloud on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, patients can communicate directly with their palliative care team. Tapcloud is ideal for telehealth in the palliative care population as it captures real-time patient symptom data fed directly to clinicians which is the best predictor of emerging patient health issues. This continuous care monitoring enhances communication between patients/caregivers and providers and allows pre-emptive management of problems thereby reducing unnecessary healthcare utilization including re-admissions and emergency room visits. Patients and families not only receive timely and appropriate care, but can also integrate themselves into their own care plan.
During the grant period, Four Seasons also developed the Palliative Care Resource Center, a website housing comprehensive resources for patients experiencing life-limiting illness. The site contains a wealth of information for patients, their families and caregivers, and community members who are simply interested in learning more, with the intent of having information gathered in one place for easy access to disease-specific education.
To learn more, visit pcresourcecenter.
Four Seasons provides palliative care, as well as many other services for those living with an advanced illness, in Henderson, Transylvania, Polk, Buncombe, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain, Cherokee, Clay, and Graham counties.
Patients and families are invited to call Four Seasons anytime – 24/7, 365 days a year – to inquire about beginning services they may need. Call toll free at 866-466-9734. Visit fourseasonscfl to learn more.