The Benefits Of Integrating Palliative Care Into Home-Based Care Programs

Navigating new service lines can be daunting, especially when integrating palliative care into existing service lines. Yet, as some providers can attest, embracing change can also yield significant benefits.

Their experiences underscore the importance of finding advocates within partner organizations and embracing patient-centered models.

While the journey towards palliative care integration may be slow for some, its transformative impact on patient experience and efficiency is becoming increasingly evident.


“It’s easier to remain in your own silo,” Tiffany Hughes, COO PalliCare Inc., said at the Hospice News/Palliative Care News Palliative Care Conference in Tampa, Florida. “I saw that [mindset] coming from hospice where it’s the perfect model of care because you control everything. When you start adding in different elements and add more hands into the pot, it gets more complicated.”

Providers who are integrating more models of care into their operations are showing that – in general – the juice is worth the squeeze.

PalliCare Inc. is a Texas-headquartered palliative care provider. In order to integrate successfully, Hughes has found that finding a partner who is willing to advocate for that new service line is key.


“Having a champion in what you’re doing is so important for us,” Hughes said. “We partner with physician groups and we’ve found that having an advocate within that health group has been really beneficial. Having a collaborative approach but having a leader in that group that can advocate for palliative care and really push this along has helped us in the decision-making process.”

By integrating palliative care, home health providers can enhance their care models to focus more on the patient and cater to more of their needs.

When Alex Binder – vice president of Parker Advanced Care Institute – was first introduced to palliative care, he didn’t know it had a specific name.

“I went on some house calls with a colleague and I was involved in some of the training to try to bring people up to speed,” Binder said. “What I saw was this comprehensive, holistic, highly communicative medicine. I just assumed that’s what medicine was. If you’re taking care of an elderly homebound patient you have this certain level of communication, you ask them questions and you develop a care plan that’s in sync with their needs.”

Parker Advanced Care collaborates with physician practices for a comprehensive home-based primary care program while also running a specialized consultative palliative practice. The company also offers palliative care training to clinicians across all its service areas.

While experts like Hughes and Binder are more familiar with palliative care integration, it has taken others longer to get on board. That includes everyone from health system executives, to nurses, to patients.

However, when they finally do get on board, people seem to catch on rather quickly.

“We have nurse practitioners that come from totally different backgrounds that have embraced palliative care,” Hughes said. “Because what palliative care is is what they’re missing in their clinic or their hospital where they have said it feels like patients are put in the system like cattle. It’s beneficial to the patient when they are more of an advocate for their care instead of being stuck in this health care hamster wheel.”

Patient-centered palliative care is also an accountability tool that can be used when focusing on the entire care continuum, Binder said.

“If you’re being held accountable for the total cost of care, you need to know where your patient is, when they went to the hospital, etc.,” Binder said. “As difficult as it is and as radical of a concept as accountability and ownership of the patient. It’s me saying, ‘I will take ownership of that patient, I will make sure that their care is appropriate in all these settings and I will be held accountable for those outcomes that quality and those costs.’ I think that’s a really efficient business model.”