Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

The Business Case for Palliative Care: Translating Research into Program Development in the U.S.

Specialist palliative care (PC) often embraces a “less is more” philosophy that runs counter to the revenue-centric nature of most health care financing in the U.S. A special business case is needed in which the financial benefits for organizations such as hospitals and payers are aligned with the demonstrable clinical benefits for patients. Based on published studies and our work with PC programs over the past 15 years, we identified 10 principles that together form a business model for specialist PC. These principles are relatively well established for inpatient PC but are only now emerging for community-based PC. Three developments that are key for the latter are the increasing penalties from payers for overutilization of hospital stays, the variety of alternative payment models such as accountable care organizations, which foster a population health management perspective, and payer-provider partnerships that allow for greater access to and funding of community-based PC.