Integrating palliative care information and hospice referral in medicaid primary care.
BACKGROUND: Hospice and palliative care (PC) remain underutilized by Medicaid patients. OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to evaluate an intervention to improve communication about advance care planning (ACP) and symptom distress, and to facilitate referral to PC and hospice. METHODS: We conducted a study in a statewide Medicaid primary care network with 510 Medicaid care managers (CMs). PC experts collaborated with leaders in the statewide primary care network on a quality improvement intervention. Training components included education and engagement with local hospice and PC providers. Quality improvement components included feedback of quality measures and a practice toolkit. Evaluation used participant surveys and tracking of key quality measures: 1) percent of at-risk subset of aged, blind, and disabled (ABD) Medicaid patients asked about ACP or symptom distress; 2) cumulative number of ABD Medicaid PC or hospice referrals; and 3) the percent of all nondual ABD Medicaid decedents enrolled in hospice. RESULTS: After training, CMs identified the following areas for expected practice change: ACP (29%), identifying/referring patients for hospice or PC (25%), supporting patients and families (21%), toolkit utilization (10%), and engaging medical providers (10%). Over one-year follow-up the percent of moderate and high-risk ABD Medicaid patients asked about ACP or symptoms increased from 7% to 31% and 8% to 41%, respectively (p<0.001). The cumulative number of PC or hospice referrals increased from 8 to 155. Hospice enrollment at death was unchanged (29% to 30%, p=NS [nonsignificant]). CONCLUSIONS: A statewide intervention targeting CMs in a Medicaid primary care practice network is effective to increase communication and hospice and PC referrals; longer follow-up may be required to determine effect on hospice use.
Beyea, A; Fischer, J; Schenck, A; Hanson, LC
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