Monday, October 19, 2009

End of life discussion

I was a guest on KUER in Salt Lake City today, talking about end of life care and health reform. Also, I was fortunate enough two weeks ago to receive a new RO1 research grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality that will attempt to lay some ground work for a revised Medicare hospice benefit, that would transition toward a palliative care benefit.

The project will identify patients with serious cancers, who will be asked to tell us about their preferences for care given their disease. The project will not only ask individuals about their preferences, but will then include a group based discussion to see if preferences are altered by group based discussions. The project will benefit from Drs. Amy Abernethy and Yousuf Zafar here at Duke Cancer Center, and Dr. Marion Danis, from NIH who is an expert in measuring patient preferences.

The project will hopefully provide some insight into patient preferences that could be used to modify the current Medicare hospice benefit in ways. The bottom line is to see if we can expand choice and quality of life while holding the costs spent under hospice as it now exists, constant.

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