Rebecca Kirch Highlights Challenges, Solutions to Overcoming Obstacles in Cancer Care Delivery

March 9, 2020

Ensuring that all frontline clinicians are equipped, confident, and engaged in executing skilled communication, which is at the core of palliative care, will make a significant difference for how value-based care unfolds, how payment reform happens, and how the lived experience plays out for patients and families to be a better one, said Rebecca Kirch, JD, executive vice president, Health Care, Quality and Value, National Patient Advocate Foundation.

Ensuring that all frontline clinicians are equipped, confident, and engaged in executing skilled communication, which is at the core of palliative care, will make a significant difference for how value-based care unfolds, how payment reform happens, and how the lived experience plays out for patients and families to be a better one, said Rebecca Kirch, JD, executive vice president, Health Care, Quality and Value, National Patient Advocate Foundation.

Transcript

What obstacles continue to prove an issue within oncology? What further research is warranted to address these issues?

There are some interesting challenges in the form of language barriers and old habits that die hard. On the panel this morning, we talked about the importance of integrating palliative care, and the first question was, well who provides that? Depending on when you were trained in your practice, you might have learned palliative care as something different from what it is today and what the evidence shows. So today, what Palliative care is, is an essential aspect of good quality cancer care from diagnosis onward to optimize quality-of-life.

Whose job is it? It's everybody's job. Every clinical encounter needs to include some aspects of helping with care coordination, identifying what's bothering the patient and caregiver most, because they're an essential unit of care. The opportunity we have to use the skilled communication that is sort of at the core palliative care principle for all frontline clinicians to be equipped and confident and engaged in doing, I think will make a significant difference for how value-based care unfolds, how payment reform happens, how the lived experience plays out for patients and families to be a better one, irrespective of the prognosis of the trajectory.

If we emphasize the importance of those skills, and the opportunities to address financial impairments and functional impairments through navigation to these services that people need that focus on what they say matters to them, then we're delivering truly person-centered care and the promise of what that can be. If we keep emphasizing disease-directed treatment without thinking about quality-of-life, and the person beyond the disease, we're going to fall short of all of those goals that we all hold dear.