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Focus Areas

Palliative Care

CIVHC has long recognized palliative care as a Triple Aim bullseye - creating better health for Coloradans, increasing patient quality of life, and decreasing costs. Despite growing evidence that palliative care is effective in improving quality of life for both patients and their families through pain control, emotional and social support, and constraining costs, insurance coverage for this important type of care is rare. Moreover, because palliative care is often associated with hospice care, providers are sometimes reluctant to broach the topic, especially with patients who don’t have a terminal prognosis. These two barriers—lack of coverage and reluctance to refer—have contributed to an inconsistent patient experience across the state.

A contributing factor to both of these barriers is a widespread gap in knowledge about what palliative care actually is. Palliative care as a subspecialty is relatively new—board certification for physicians only began in 2008. As such, CIVHC and our taskforce partners felt that creating a standard definition that could be consistently applied to facilities that claim to provide palliative care services was an important step. To that end, the Palliative Care Task Force submitted a definition of palliative care to the Colorado State Board of Health which was approved in 2014 and now exists as part of the Colorado Standards for Hospitals and Health Facilities. There is currently no regulatory mechanism to hold providers to this definition (for example, a hospital cannot be cited for providing palliative care services that are inconsistent with this definition). However, we believe this was an important step in normalizing palliative services as a part of standard health care for people with serious illness.

More recently, our work in this area has focused one two key areas that were identified during a series of three public town hall meetings that occurred early in 2016. During those meetings, we asked participants to identify top issues in expanding palliative care and to identify existing resources that could be leveraged. After careful consideration, CIVHC determined that the two issues most closely aligned with our mission are Advance Care Planning (ACP) and Reimbursement. Since September we have been convening two working groups focused on each of these areas.

Palliative Care in Colorado: Trends, Gaps and Opportunities to Improve Care for Coloradans

Webinar: Palliative Care in Colorado

In March 2015, CIVHC hosted awebinar focused on Palliative Care in Colorado. The 90-minute webinar featured presentations on national palliative care trends and Colorado-based programs.

Click here to view the webinar, slides for the individual presentations are below.

Click here for additional Palliative Care resources including the Palliative Care Best Practices Guide.

For more information, contact