New Rochelle, NY, September 1, 2009--Patients with advanced illnesses more than doubled their use of hospice care when a major national health plan made hospice care more readily accessible, according to the results of a comparative study published in Journal of Palliative Medicine, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.(www.liebertpub.com). Journal of Palliative Medicine is the official journal of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) and an official journal of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA). The article is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/jpm
In contrast with many insurers that limit access to hospice care, national healthcare insurer Aetna (Hartford, CT) studied a trial of expanded insurance benefits for hospice care and added nurse case managers who provided information to patients and their families. The result was a dramatic increase in both overall hospice use and the mean number of days in hospice care. This study must be evaluated in the light of compelling research data over the past decade that shows hospice care provides better care than standard care for patients near the end of life. The percent of patients referred for hospice care and the number of days in hospice care are nationally accepted measures of quality health care. Claire M. Spettell from Aetna and colleagues conclude that more liberal hospice insurance benefits and the addition of comprehensive case management to a health plan can help lead to better health care for patients with advanced illnesses. The authors document about a 70% increase in hospice use in the article entitled, "A Comprehensive Case Management Program to Improve Palliative Care."
"The scientific data has been clear for many years; hospice care for the last months of life is the best care during that period. It's delightful that national health insurers are investigating how to translate that science into better care for those they insure," says Charles F. von Gunten, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Palliative Medicine, and Provost, Institute for Palliative Medicine at San Diego Hospice.
Journal of Palliative Medicine, published monthly in print and online, is an interdisciplinary journal that reports on the clinical, educational, legal, and ethical aspects of care for seriously ill and dying patients. The Journal includes coverage of the latest developments in drug and non-drug treatments for patients with life-threatening diseases including cancer, AIDS, cardiac disease, pulmonary, neurologic, respiratory conditions, and other diseases. The Journal reports on the development of palliative care programs around the United States and the world, and on innovations in palliative care education.
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com) is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including AIDS Patient Care and STDs, Population Health Management, and Briefings in Palliative, Hospice, and Pain Medicine and Management, a weekly e-News Alert. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry's most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm's 60 journals, newsmagazines, and books is available at www.liebertpub.com
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