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Barriers and Facilitators to Scaling Up Outpatient Palliative Care.

Bekelman DB, Rabin BA, Nowels CT, Sahay A, Heidenreich PA, Fischer SM, Main DS. Barriers and Facilitators to Scaling Up Outpatient Palliative Care. Journal of palliative medicine. 2016 Apr 1; 19(4):456-9.

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BACKGROUND: The Institute of Medicine recommends people with serious advanced illness have access to skilled palliative care. However, the predominant delivery model of nonhospice palliative care is inpatient, consultative care focused on the end of life, with a small specialist palliative care workforce. OBJECTIVE: The study objective was to understand organizational factors that could influence the adoption and scale-up of outpatient palliative care in chronic advanced illness, using the example of heart failure. METHODS: This was a cross-sectional qualitative study. Participants were 17 health care providers and local, regional, and national health system leaders from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) who were considering whether and how to adopt and sustain outpatient palliative care. Individual interviews using semistructured questions assessed domains of the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Science. RESULTS: Most providers and leaders perceived outpatient palliative care as high priority in the VHA given its patient-centeredness and potential to decrease health care use and costs associated with conditions like heart failure. They also supported a collaborative care team model of outpatient palliative care delivery where a palliative care specialist collaborates with medical nurses and social workers. They reported lack of performance measures/incentives for patient-centered care processes and outcomes as a potential barrier to implementation. Features of outpatient palliative care viewed as important for successful adoption and scale-up included coordination and communication with other providers, ease of integration into existing programs, and evidence of improving quality of care while not substantially increasing overall health care costs. CONCLUSION: Incentives such as performance measures and collaboration with local VHA providers and leaders could improve adoption and scale-up of outpatient palliative care.

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