Identifying Palliative Care Champions to Promote High-Quality Care to Those with Serious Illness.
Leading medical authorities advocate for routine integration of palliative care for all major causes of death in the United States. With rapid growth and acceptance, the field of palliative care is tasked with addressing a compelling question of its time: "Who will deliver timely, evidence-based palliative care to all who should benefit?" The current number of palliative care specialists will not suffice to meet the needs of persons with serious illness. In 2010, initial estimates quantified the shortage at 6000 to 18 000 additional palliative care physicians needed to fully staff existing programs. Unfortunately, the predicted number of specialty physicians in 2030 will likely not be larger than the workforce in existence today. These findings result in a physician-to-serious-illness-person ratio of about 1:28 000 in 2030.1 To address the workforce shortage, stronger alignment is needed between intensity of patient needs and provision of palliative care services. Such an alignment better harnesses the talents of those in a position to deliver core palliative care services (such as discussing goals of care with patients or managing their symptoms) while engaging palliative care specialists to address more complex issues. We introduce the concept of "Palliative Care Champions," who sit at the nexus between specialty palliative care and the larger clinical workforce. Acknowledging that the needs of most patients can be met by clinicians who have received basic palliative care training, and that specialty palliative care is not always available for those with more complex needs, there exists an important opportunity for those with additional interest to scale training and quality improvement to fill this void. J Am Geriatr Soc 67:S461-S467, 2019.
Kamal, AH; Bowman, B; Ritchie, CS
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