Hospices are increasingly eying palliative care as a promising growth opportunity, prioritizing expansion in that field over other health care service lines.
More than half (56%) of hospice care professionals indicated that they planned to launch palliative care programs during 2023 in this year’s Hospice News Industry Outlook Survey, prepared in collaboration with Homecare Homebase. This is a rise from last year’s results in which 52% of respondents reported the same.
Survey respondents included nearly 330 hospice and palliative care industry professionals, including owners, executive leaders and managers, among others.
Growing demand for serious illness care is a large propellant of this trend, according to Rory Farrand, vice president of palliative and advanced care at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).
The wide breadth of service variety within the scope of palliative care presents another lever moving hospices’ investments in the space, especially in terms of reaching patients upstream, Farrand indicated during the Palliative Care Conference in Washington D.C.
“We know that palliative care is a growing field. It is something that we continue to hear from our [hospice] partners, our payors, that folks really need the care that is out there,” Farrand told Palliative Care News. “We have folks that are living longer with more chronic illnesses, illnesses that then convert into serious and life threatening illnesses. This is a service that people need, yet don’t always have the opportunity to get. It’s evolving.”
More hospices plan to invest in palliative care than any other service this year, the survey found, including home health, pediatric, home-based primary care and personal care services, among others.
Identifying the scope and outlook of a palliative care program begins with addressing the specific needs of serious ill patients within a community, according to Rebecca Doleman, vice president of palliative programs at Heart to Heart Hospice. She leads the company’s palliative care subsidiary, InHome Connects.
This means taking a wider lens around where access to services lacks the most within a geographic region and how to fill that gap, Doleman explained.
“You start wherever the need is, and wherever it’s presented for you and your organization in your community,” Doleman said during the conference. “[There’s] a lack of access to palliative care and an incredible need in the market. You don’t have to look very hard or very far to find the need, and that’s where you should be starting.”