More than 40 million people worldwide are deemed palliative each year and yet it’s estimated only around 14% receive the palliative care they need.
Palliative medicine provides medical care to one who has a serious illness. It most often refers to hospice, comfort care, and end-of-life situations.
Dedicated healthcare professionals around the world are working hard on innovations to improve comfort care for dying patients.
Keep reading to learn some of the innovations that focus on not only improving quality of life but quality comfort care in dying and death.
Integrated Clinical Care Pathways
It’s difficult to know when a serious illness has become palliative.
This is, in part, because there are so many various treatment options, medical breakthroughs, and innovative therapy techniques. The more options there are, the harder it is to predict the outcome.
Treatments are developed and approved every day. This means there are little data and research available. You may not be able to predict when a patient will improve.
How Do Integrated Care Pathways Help in Comfort Care?
Integrated care pathways help teams recognize the right time to transition a patient into palliative care.
Innovation with ICP identifies the need to transition into comfort care.
Some of the factors which may actuate a Palliative consult alert on a patient’s care plan:
- Several readmissions with a short period of time (ie. more than five admissions in a 60 day period)
- Metastisized or advanced cancer where treatment has been deemed of no benefit
- Repeated admissions directly from long term care
- Complex continuing care with complicated symptoms and lack of response to treatments
- Terminally ill or CCC patients with no advanced directives
- The harm of treatment outweighs possible benefits with no expected improvement in the quality of life and expectation for extension of the lifetime
When a patient’s ICP identifies these factors a palliative medicine consult would begin. This is to ensure the patient’s needs are being met.
Palliative and Comfort Care Teams
Medicine often focuses on the treatment and management of illnesses and medical conditions. The problem is the real priority should be quality of life.
Focus on treatment rather than the quality of life when a patient is, in all reality. palliative diminishes the quality of the time they have.
Early transition to a palliative care team can improve the quality of life for individuals in their final months, weeks, or days of life.
A team in Ontario Canada has developed an innovative program that is being implemented around the world.
They researched and developed a system to help the Healthcare industry adopt and implement improved comfort care for patients through Palliative care teams.
This innovative program allows patients to stay at home longer. It reduces exposure to germs, infections, and other threats from repeated hospital admissions. It minimizes emergency room visits. It is beneficial to mental health as well.
Remote and Telemedicine
Many of the issues around providing the best quality of care in palliative medicine is a lack of communication between patients and the right healthcare professionals.
Not every community has access to advanced medical teams. There is no access to facilities like Cardinal Hospice to provide local care. This lack of care lowers quality of life.
Remote access and telemedicine are innovations that are changing the quality of life for millions. Allowing them to take the end-of-life journey with the best and most appropriate care.
Innovations in Comfort Care Changing How We Die
The advancements and innovations made in palliative medicine and focusing on comfort care are changing the way millions pass away. Medicine is about doing no harm and these advancements are making sure that continues with the patient to their last breath.
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