News | January 25, 2017

Blue Shield Of California, Hill Physicians Medical Group And Snowline Hospice Collaborate To Offer Home-Based Palliative Care To Seriously Ill Patients

Services offer comprehensive palliative care using an interdisciplinary team approach

Sacramento, CA /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ - Blue Shield of California, Hill Physicians Medical Group and Snowline Hospice have announced a new home-based palliative care program that brings together an interdisciplinary group of providers to deliver comprehensive care and support for seriously ill patients and their families. The program will provide training, resources and support to develop a successful program to be used as a model moving forward.

Home-based palliative care features home visits by a care team that includes a physician, nurse, social worker, home health aide and chaplain. This interdisciplinary team provides pain and symptom management, psychosocial support, advance care planning, grief counseling, disease management education, spiritual counseling and other services as needed for patients and caregivers.

The first of its kind for an independent physician association in California, the program is available to Sacramento area patients enrolled in Blue Shield of California's fully-insured health plans including individual, group and Medicare members.

"This new program enables primary care providers to offer palliative care services to patients with advanced illness in collaboration with hospice providers who are expert in palliative care," said Marcus Thygeson, M.D., Blue Shield's Chief Health Officer. "This will improve care for seriously ill people and support for their caregivers."

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness that focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of that illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Such care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided along with curative treatment.

"Palliative care allows members to explore and document their health care and quality of life goals and get the care they want, wherever they are in their disease process," said Terry Hill, M.D., Vice President of Performance Strategy, Hill Physicians Medical Group. "We know from national opinion polls that over 70% of Americans want to receive care at home in their last months of life, while only a third actually do so. When individuals understand what palliative care is, 97% say they would want to receive that kind of treatment."

"We started this program at Snowline to address the unmet needs many patients and families face when dealing with serious chronic illnesses," said Michael Schmidt, Snowline's Executive Director. "We are proud to partner with Blue Shield & Hill Physicians to bring this beneficial care to a broader range of patients and their families."

The new program also will be studied by researchers from the University of Southern California (USC). Last month, Dr. Susan Enguidanos, PhD. associate professor at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, was awarded a $5 million grant from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to study primary care clinic palliative care vs. home-based palliative care.

The study will compare outcomes from two groups: patients who receive care from primary care providers who have been trained in palliative care and patients who receive home-based palliative care provided by an interdisciplinary palliative care team. About 1,100 seriously ill patients with cancer, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, along with 884 of their caregivers, will be randomly assigned to either group, making this one of the largest trials of palliative care to date.

The award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.

About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California, an independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 4 million members, 6,800 employees and more than $13 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 and headquartered in San Francisco, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare healthcare service plans in California. The company's mission is to ensure all Californians have access to high-quality care at an affordable price. Blue Shield has contributed more than $325 million over the past 10 years to the Blue Shield of California Foundation. Contact your local agent or broker about Blue Shield of California products and services or visit www.blueshieldca.com.

About Hill Physicians
Hill Physicians Medical Group is the largest independent physician association in Northern California and is a nationally known leader in innovative healthcare. The Integrated Healthcare Association and California Association of Physician Groups have recognized Hill Physicians as one of the top-performing medical groups in the state. Committed to serving healthy lifestyles, Hill Physicians offers extensive heath education services to its patients, including health screenings and self-help through its online information portal at www.HillPhysicians.com

About Snowline
Snowline is a community based nonprofit hospice and palliative care provider, serving patients and families in El Dorado and Sacramento counties. Founded in 1979, it is one of the Sacramento region's oldest operating hospices. With over 150 employees, and a local board of directors, Snowline is committed to providing support and education about end of life to patients and families. Snowline operates several retail thrift stores, and a recycling center, which helps support its hospice and Supportive Care services. More information can be found at www.snowlinehospice.org

About PCORI
PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions. For more information about PCORI's funding, visit www.pcori.org. http://www.pcori.org/funding/opportunities.

SOURCE: Blue Shield Of California

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