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Developing A Service Model That Integrates Palliative Care Throughout Cancer Care: The Time Is Now

Ann H. Partridge, Davinia S.E. Seah, Tari King, Natasha B. Leighl, Ralph Hauke, Dana S. Wollins, Jamie Hayden Von Roenn

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Palliative care is a fundamental component of cancer care. As part of the 2011 to 2012 Leadership Development Program (LDP) of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), a group of participants was charged with advising ASCO on how to develop a service model integrating palliative care throughout the continuum of cancer care. This article presents the findings of the LDP group. The group focused on the process of palliative care delivery in the oncology setting. We identified key elements for models of palliative care in various settings to be potentially equitable, sustainable, feasible, and acceptable, and here we describe a dynamic model for the integrated, simultaneous implementation of palliative care into oncology practice. We also discuss critical considerations to better integrate palliative care into oncology, including raising consciousness and educating both providers and the public about the importance of palliative care; coordinating palliative care efforts through strengthening affiliations and/or developing new partnerships; prospectively evaluating the impact of palliative care on patient and provider satisfaction, quality improvement, and cost savings; and ensuring sustainability through adequate reimbursement and incentives, including linkage of performance data to quality indicators, and coordination with training efforts and maintenance of certification requirements for providers. In light of these findings, we believe the confluence of increasing importance of incorporation of palliative care education in oncology education, emphasis on value-based care, growing use of technology, and potential cost savings makes developing and incorporating palliative care into current service models a meaningful goal.