Public Release: 

Allina Health presents LifeCourse developments at national conference

Allina Health

MINNEAPOLIS - (June 15, 2016) - For many health care professionals, emphasizing quality of life over clinical outcomes is new ground. Allina Health will present three ground-breaking findings at the AcademyHealth 2016 Annual Research Meeting this month in Boston. All are based on LifeCourse, a multi-year study of a whole-person approach to late-life care.

Evaluating Quality of Life: Whole Person Intervention for Late Life Patients with Chronic Illness compared 190 heart failure, cancer, and dementia patients participating in the LifeCourse intervention with 157 patients receiving usual care. Quality of life scores for the study patients were significantly better than for the other patients after six months.

"As traditional healthcare models serve patients with acute needs approaching the end of life, the individual preferences and support needs of patients with complex chronic illness are often underserved. Quality of life indicators enable understanding of healthcare delivery beyond system oriented outcomes, shedding light on the effect of holistic support care for those living with complex chronic illness in late life," said Tetyana Shippee, MS, PhD, Assistant Professor of Health Policy & Management at the University of Minnesota.

Development and Validation of a New Patient-Centered Experience Tool in Patients with Serious Illness included 770 patients who were not yet eligible for hospice but sick enough to receive benefits of a supportive care approach two to three years prior to death.

Researchers said existing experience measures were not particularly useful in understanding or supporting patients with serious illness in later life. They developed a tool that asked patients to rate 30 items on a four-point scale ten different domains related to patient experience with care, such as repeat myself, goals, and trust.

"Our patient-centered experience scale is highly reliable and can be used to better understand the needs of complex patients and streamline their care," said Karl Fernstrom, MPH, Manager in Applied Research at Allina Health.

Repeated Group Interviews: Supporting and Empowering Staff during Transformation studied a support system for LifeCourse staff. Eighteen team members participated, including nurses, social workers, a pharmacist, a chaplain, a marriage and family therapist, and trained lay care professionals called care guides.

"Health care staff members who participate in innovative care delivery may face challenges stemming from resistance to the innovation and lack of clarity about the future," said Cindy Cain, MA, PhD.

Initially, group interviews with staff seemed to help them solve problems, strategize about the future, leverage resources, and learn from others. Meetings became less frequent as confidentiality became a concern with some staff. This study continues as researchers look for "additional procedures necessary for protecting the psychological safety of staff members," Cain said.


More about Allina Health LifeCourse

LifeCourse is a late life supportive care approach employing lay healthcare workers called care guides who collaborate with care teams and community resources to help patients and their key friends and family navigate the complexities of serious illness. LifeCourse aims to maintain or improve quality of life and care experience and improve service utilization. For more information on LifeCourse, visit

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 13 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, senior transitions, hospice care, home oxygen and medical equipment and emergency medical transportation services.

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