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J Palliat Med. 2013 Apr;16(4):376-82. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2012.0483. Epub 2013 Mar 5.

Integrating palliative care information and hospice referral in medicaid primary care.

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  • 1Palliative Care Program, Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Center for Aging and Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.



Hospice and palliative care (PC) remain underutilized by Medicaid patients.


Our aim was to evaluate an intervention to improve communication about advance care planning (ACP) and symptom distress, and to facilitate referral to PC and hospice.


We conducted a study in a statewide Medicaid primary care network with 510 Medicaid care managers (CMs). PC experts collaborated with leaders in the statewide primary care network on a quality improvement intervention. Training components included education and engagement with local hospice and PC providers. Quality improvement components included feedback of quality measures and a practice toolkit. Evaluation used participant surveys and tracking of key quality measures: 1) percent of at-risk subset of aged, blind, and disabled (ABD) Medicaid patients asked about ACP or symptom distress; 2) cumulative number of ABD Medicaid PC or hospice referrals; and 3) the percent of all nondual ABD Medicaid decedents enrolled in hospice.


After training, CMs identified the following areas for expected practice change: ACP (29%), identifying/referring patients for hospice or PC (25%), supporting patients and families (21%), toolkit utilization (10%), and engaging medical providers (10%). Over one-year follow-up the percent of moderate and high-risk ABD Medicaid patients asked about ACP or symptoms increased from 7% to 31% and 8% to 41%, respectively (p<0.001). The cumulative number of PC or hospice referrals increased from 8 to 155. Hospice enrollment at death was unchanged (29% to 30%, p=NS [nonsignificant]).


A statewide intervention targeting CMs in a Medicaid primary care practice network is effective to increase communication and hospice and PC referrals; longer follow-up may be required to determine effect on hospice use.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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