Patients with serious and life-threatening illnesses may be less likely to experience unnecessary physical and emotional suffering if they receive palliative or hospice care that meets 10 key quality indicators identified by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA). The findings and recommendations of the organizations’ consensus project, Measuring What Matters, were published online in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.Measuring What Matters was launched to ensure palliative and hospice care patients receive the highest quality care by identifying the 10 best existing indicators – measures – to gauge that care. The 10 measures range from a complete assessment (including physical, psychological, social, spiritual and functional needs) to a plan for managing pain and shortness of breath to having patients’ treatment preferences followed. They were selected from among 75 indicators largely based on what’s most important to patients and families.Palliative care improves quality of life for patients who are being treated for a serious illness by managing pain and other symptoms. Hospice is a specific type of palliative care for patients in their last year of life.The goal of the project was to select a set of measures that are scientifically rigorous, and that all palliative and hospice care providers should use to ensure they are giving the highest quality care and to eventually enable benchmarking in the field. Currently there is no consistency regarding which measures are required by various groups, from accrediting organizations to payers. As the population ages and the demand for this type of care grows, the ability to assess quality throughout the country and across care settings is increasingly important.
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