After realizing considerable success with their tech-enabled palliative care programs, the team at Kara Health recently chose to add hospice care to their menu of services. The decision provides a continuum of care for patients navigating chronic illness and end-of-life care, and benefits patients, providers, and payers.
About Palliative and Hospice Care
Both palliative and hospice care are centered on patient comfort. Palliative care begins at the time of diagnosis of a long-term or chronic illness. The focus is on providing enhanced quality of life, whether or not the patient is receiving treatment intended to cure.
Hospice care begins when it’s clear the patient’s illness can no longer be slowed or cured by medical treatment, or when a patient decides to forgo treatment. Hospice is equally focused on comfort care, but without an attempt to cure illness and instead, prioritizing quality of life.
Kara Health’s innovative palliative care services help patients navigate their serious illness at home. Telehealth, remote monitoring and tech-enabled initiatives reduce time spent in the hospital and maximize the efficiency of clinicians’ interactions with patients. This not only improves satisfaction for patients and their families, but reduces costs for patients, payers, and providers.
Previously, Kara Health was referring patients to hospice providers when it became time to transition to end-of-life care. In November 2020, Kara Health chose to own this next leg of the patient journey with the purchase of Orange County Hospice Services Inc.
Why Provide Hospice?
The decision to provide a continuum of care through end of life differentiates Kara Health from providers who specialize in palliative care or hospice, but not both. In addition, it provides the following benefits to patients, health systems and payers.
Improves Quality of Care
- Kara Health has applied its strengths in palliative care to the hospice space, ensuring patients receive the highest level of clinical care during their final stages of life.
- Kara Health’s palliative and hospice team has over 20 years experience in treating patients with serious or chronic illness. The team has developed a unique and thoughtful training system for both clinical and non-clinical staff that allows for best-in-class care.
- Kara Health’s standout operational models, including the Kara Pathways (TM), Kara Concierge and Kara F&D (TM), ensure higher patient satisfaction and better quality of life for patients with advanced illness. These benefits are now extended through end of life and beyond, as families receive bereavement support under Kara Health’s new model.
Improves Consistency of Care
- Expanding their offerings toward the full continuum of care was a natural move for Kara Health, as they aim to ensure improved outcomes for high-risk populations.
- Combining palliative and hospice offerings under one roof allows patients to remain within the Kara Health system and in many cases, receive care from the same clinicians and teams they are familiar with, further minimizing stress and risk at a critical time in the patient’s journey.
- Providing consistent care will be further made easier, with a new Medicare Advantage model as of January 2021. Medicare Advantage Plans will have the ability to “carve in” hospice services, ensuring a smooth transition between palliative and hospice care. MA plans participating in the model will have the ability to overlap palliative and hospice services for one month.
Reduces Costs for Payers
- Consolidating palliative and hospice care with a single experienced provider, such as Kara Health, keeps all billing for high-risk patients with advanced illness under one roof. Not only are patient outcomes improved, but the move eases the burden on payers and is expected to reduce the total cost of care.
- Evidence already proves Kara Health’s palliative care services improve patient outcomes while reducing total cost of care. A 2020 study by Trella Health confirms timely hospice engagement also minimizes costs in the final three months of life by helping patients avoid traumatic acute events. The study found patients, providers, and payers are underutilizing hospice, thus missing out on opportunities to control end-of-life spending.
- Kara Health can now ensure patients are in exactly the right care setting at the right time by applying their unique balance of compassion and technology to both palliative and hospice populations.
A Holistic Approach
Kara Health’s choice to enter the hospice space offers more than just a competitive advantage. Patients and their families can now rely on a continuum of physical and emotional support as they seek comfort while coping with advanced illness.
Kara Health’s approach is holistic in nature and focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress caused by serious illness. This now includes expert hospice care, serviced by a team of clinicians, social workers, aides, chaplains, and volunteers. Truly comprehensive care treats the whole patient and their families throughout the homecare journey.