Make it easy for physicians to know when it’s time for hospice

Although the country seems to be more comfortable with the need for advance care planning, particularly evident in the recent CMS decision to allow physician reimbursement for these conversations, let’s face it, many doctors remain uncomfortable with the idea of hospice or even discussing hospice care with their patients.

All too often, patients begin hospice care so late in their disease that they only receive services for a few days when they could have been experiencing improvement in quality of life and symptom management for much longer.

As hospice companies continue their efforts to educate physicians about the good hospice can do, it can be beneficial to use tools to help doctors know when it’s appropriate to refer a patient with a particular diagnosis.

These referral materials should include the hospice eligibility guidelines and the related tools needed to determine whether a patient meets the criteria.

TAG Partners has created several materials to help you in your educational efforts and help you accomplish your goals of building strong referral partnerships.

• Guidelines for Hospice Admission flip charts are among the most popular educational materials TAG Partners produces. These coat-pocket-sized coil-bound booklets cover the criteria for hospice admission for a variety of diagnoses.

• Hospice Pocket Reference Guides offer a condensed version of the eligibility criteria as well as information on pain management, common problems, commonly used medications and tips for dealing with difficult patients.

• The new Hospice Eligibility Quick-Reference Guide provides an at-a-glance single-sheet reference for desktop use.

All three materials include information about the New York Heart Association Functional Classification, the Palliative Performance Scale, and Functional Assessment Staging.

While you’re discussing hospice eligibility with physicians, make sure they know about the new advance care planning payment rule. Check out this blog entry for more information.