The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released information on two new hospice quality reporting measures, Hospice Visits in Last Days of Life and Hospice Care Index, to be publicly posted on Care Compare no earlier than May 2022. The measures will be based on two years of data and are expected to reflect the effects of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Hospice chaplain G. Todd Williams learned what it's like to be a caregiver while looking after his cousin at the end of life. "At any time, one of us might be called to be a caregiver. Living into that role does not mean that we surrender everything that we are, and we need to remember to take the space we need for ourselves and have grace for us and our needs while we also give the gift of time and care to those we love," Williams writes.
Hispanic, African American and Asian patients accounted for less than 20% of Medicare hospice patients in 2018, and a study found that African Americans were less likely than Caucasians to enroll in a hospice program and had shorter lengths of stay. Hospices are prioritizing diversity initiatives, and Agrace Hospice & Supportive Care in Wisconsin has launched a diversity, equity and inclusion speaker series, and staff members receive cultural humility and unconscious bias training.
Robin Zimmerman reflects on the death of his wife to melanoma more than 13 years ago and considers the trajectory of his and his daughter's lives since that time. He wonders what life would have been like if she hadn't died and concludes, "It is only necessary to accept what is, and to accept life and loss as it comes."
A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases showed that in 2017 in the US, nearly 12,000 older adult deaths were tied to six common antibiotic-resistant microbes, totaling nearly $1.9 billion in care costs. "Congress and federal agencies such as CMS need to prioritize actions and investments that will strengthen the existing arsenal against antibiotic-resistant infections by spurring the development of new antibiotics and slowing the emergence of these infections by reducing inappropriate antibiotic use," noted the study authors.
Addressing social determinants of health, integrating social and health care services, and improving coverage of and access to preventive and primary care can help the federal government improve population health and overall health outcomes, according to a Bipartisan Policy Center report. The report called for expanding the list of nonmedical services that can be covered by Medicaid, enhancing use of telehealth and technology, increasing reimbursement for some Medicaid services and strengthening primary care infrastructure.
The Rural Telehealth Access Task Force Act was introduced in Congress last week with the aims of studying telehealth availability in rural areas and determining how barriers to its use can be overcome for better patient health. The task force would include professionals from the FCC, HHS, VA and National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
The National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization will provide its members with an application by tech company Empathy to help support families in managing the details of bereavement. "Hospices can offer this to their clients, and it provides another of the many tools that hospices currently utilize to help provide support and education to those near and dear to the patient," said Edo Banach, president and CEO of NHPCO.
Clinicians should continue to treat patients during an IT or EHR system outage only if they can meet the standard of care or the situation is urgent or emergent, and they should clearly document the situation in detail as soon as the EHR is available, says Tony Quang, a physician and attorney. Clinicians should never ignore or override outage protocols, and they should never do something they believe is unsafe, regardless of their employer's directives, Quang says.
Whether you are taking your initial board certification exam or are recertifying, the HPM bundle has the tools you need to help you prepare for your hospice and palliative medicine board exam. This bundle saves you time and money, and includes HPM PASS, all four HPM FAST modules, and a board review course recording. Pair the HPM Bundle with the Essentials Book Set with Learning Modules and you have all the tools you need to prepare for your exam. Head to learn.aahpm.org and browse the Board Prep section of the catalog.
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