Ask The Expert: Palliative Medicine
Kim Haag, MSN, APRN, ANP-C with AseraCare in Indianapolis, Indiana
Q: What is Palliative Medicine?
A: Palliative Medicine is a medical specialty that focuses on improving a persons overall quality of life through pain and symptom management, clarification of Goals of Care, and other medically necessary care interventions for people with chronic or serious illnesses. It is not dependent on prognosis, and may be provided in conjunction with curative/life-prolonging treatments.
Q: What’s the difference from Palliative Medicine, Hospice, and Home Health Care?
A: Palliative Medicine is not a program funded model of care, and it is not linked to prognosis nor is it limited to end-of-life care. For persons to receive home health care the person must be home bound, and there must be a skilled level of care needs (wound care, teaching, treatments, therapy). Hospice care is a Medicare Benefit that provides an interdisciplinary team to support end-of-life care needs for persons and their families who are in their last 6 months of life. Hospice care is dependent on a person’s prognosis who is not engaged in curative treatments.
Q: Who is part of the Palliative Medicine team?
A: Typically Palliative Medicine teams are lead by a Physician or Nurse Practitioner who leads a multidisciplinary team (Social Worker, Spiritual Care Coordinator, other community support agencies) to provide medical care to persons and provide support to their families.
Q: Who is appropriate for Palliative Medicine Consultation?
A: Anyone with a serious or chronic illness may benefit from Palliative Medicine consultation. This includes persons who may need additional support with symptom management and education related to their disease trajectory, or who are in need of discussing their Goals of Care. Consultations are done based on medical necessity.
Q: Who pays for Palliative Medicine Consults?
A: Palliative Medicine consultations are considered Professional Services and are covered under Medicare Part B coverage. If you have a Commercial Insurance Policy, most Commercial Insurance Providers apply the same guidelines to their policies. Persons still need to meet any deductibles, and co-payment requirements of their policy. A person’s supplemental or secondary policy typically covers co-payment requirements.
Q: Where do Palliative Medicine Consultations take place?
A: Palliative Medicine consults may be provided in any care setting: Hospitals, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Long-term Care Facilities, Homes, Clinics, Assisted Living Facilities, and Personal Care Homes.
Q: What are the benefits of Palliative Medicine?
A: The benefits for persons who receive Palliative Medicine Consultation are improved pain and symptom relief (shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, etc.), and improved long-term control of their symptoms. Persons have a better understanding of their condition and treatment options, and experience an improved ability to tolerate medical treatments with an improved quality of life.
About Kim Haag: New to the Indianapolis area, Kim brings 27 years of nursing and management experience, as well as experience in Hospice, Home Care, and Long Term Care. She is passionate about caring for the whole patient and family.