Year of Publication

2015

College

Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Martha Riddell, DrPH, MPH

Committee Member

Sarah Wackerbarth, PhD

Committee Member

Julia Costich, PhD, JD

Abstract

The purpose of this capstone project paper and study was to evaluate an inpatient palliative care consultation service and then make recommendations for improving the program. This paper includes a literature review related to palliative care models and best practices in structuring a successful inpatient palliative care service. The project included an analysis of how the program at one university based hospital measured success of the program and SWOT analysis based on interviews with members of the program’s team and leadership. Data sources used for the analysis included palliative care consultation utilization data from the identified hospital; other metrics used by the palliative care team; interviews with the clinical and managerial staff; and, the literature review. The capstone project includes a series of recommendations focused on how the team can better measure the performance and effectiveness of the palliative care program and a number of other general improvements that can be made to make the program more integral to the care of patients at the hospital and in the patients’ communities. The literature review and study also make a case for the use of palliative care as an integrated public health strategy. In conclusion, it is important for an inpatient palliative care program to include resource components based on nationally accepted guidelines and principles. The program in this evaluation has structured its program in alignment with those standards. However, the hospital now needs to take the next step in the ongoing improvement of its palliative care program. Specifically the program should utilize clinical and social criteria (triggers) for targeted patient collection; consider linkages to or creation of community palliative care programs; improve the connectivity between the program and referring physicians; overhaul the “dashboard” used for monitoring metrics; and, measure the performance of the program against established benchmarks.

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