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Major study supports benefits of new JourneyCare services

Scientists say palliative care improves patient experience, cuts costs

Palliative care – or care that provides relief from symptoms of a serious illness to improve quality of life – boosts the patient experience by reducing burdensome procedures and length of hospital stays and cutting costs, according to a recent report in JAMA Internal Medicine. These findings are among the reasons JourneyCare leaders are launching new, innovative initiatives to care for the seriously ill throughout 10 counties in the Chicago region.

Responding to a report appearing in JAMA Internal Medicine’s June 2018 issue, Mark Grzeskowiak, MD, JourneyCare vice president of medical services, says that study results offer support for JourneyCare’s expansion into chronic care management, Accountable Care Organization partnerships and home-based primary care.

“Our mission is to go beyond simply offering hospice and palliative care and do more for patients upstream. We are attending to them earlier in their disease phase so that we can limit or prevent complications, improve outcomes and enhance the quality of their lives, with overall greater cost effectiveness,” says Dr. Grzeskowiak.

JourneyCare provides healthcare to seriously and chronically ill patients throughout its 10-county service area. With 40 years of leadership in the palliative care movement, the organization has grown to become nationally recognized, especially for its progressive partnerships and programs that include an affiliation with KeepWell ACO (Accountable Care Organization) and the pilot launch of JourneyCare House Calls, home-based primary care that comes to the doorstep of seriously ill, homebound patients.

In their published study, researchers from The Mount Sinai Hospital/Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Trinity College Dublin, determined that, when palliative care was introduced early in a seriously-ill patient’s hospital stay, health care costs were cut significantly. Among the findings: hospitals saved more than $3,200 over the course of a patient’s stay when palliative care was added to a patient’s treatment plan.

More importantly, authors indicated in follow-up, palliative care limits the intensity of hospital treatment, reduces the number of procedures and enhances the overall care experience for both patient and family, especially for those with multiple diseases.

“The study adds further support to what we in the field have been long aware: palliative and chronic care management reduce suffering, improve outcomes and are cost-effective,” Dr. Grzeskowiak says. “More now needs to be done at the acute-care-hospital level to leverage the availability of advanced care services that organizations like JourneyCare can offer.”

About JourneyCare

With 40 years of healthcare leadership and expertise, JourneyCare has achieved national recognition for growth, innovation, community partnerships and best practices in caring for adults and children with serious illness. JourneyCare serves 10 counties in the Chicago region and is the largest nonprofit provider of hospice and palliative care in Illinois. The agency also provides services that include JourneyCare House Calls, Chronic Care Management and JourneyCare Choices – serving patients at all stages of serious illness. JourneyCare is dedicated to enriching lives through expert, compassionate care and empowering patients and families to live with dignity, on their own terms.