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The Train Hasn’t Merely Left the Station

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Spain for a cousin’s wedding, and every time I visit Europe I’m struck by the remarkably advanced transportation system they have in place. You can get just about anywhere you want to go in Europe by train, and in most cases a high speed option is available. As I was periodically checking in to the health care scene stateside while I was away, the cliché “The Train Has Left the Station” kept coming to mind. Significant changes are taking place in health care signaling an uptick in momentum. Not only has the train left the station when it comes to transparency and payment reform, but it’s well on its way towards the final destination – lower costs and better care.

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CO Health Change Agent - HopeWest

Death is a taboo topic in America. In many cases, the reticence to discuss end-of-life concerns extends to serious diagnoses, such as cancer, which may not be terminal.

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What's the Difference Between Palliative Care and Hospice Care? Part I in a Series of FAQs

Despite some interesting “discussions” at the federal level on end-of-life care over the last few years, CIVHC continues our commitment as a convener and leader to improve access to high-quality palliative care across Colorado. Along the way, we’ve received many questions from stakeholders about palliative care and our decision to focus on this topic, especially in the light of highly charged political rhetoric associated with end-of-life care over the last couple years. Over the course of the next few months, I will be answering some of the questions we get most often in an effort to demystify palliative care. Today's question focuses on a common misperception that palliative care and hospice care are one and the same.

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Why Focus on Palliative Care to Achieve Triple Aim? Part II in a Series of FAQs

Considering the fact that CIVHC ‘s expansive charge is to improve the quality of care and bend the cost curve for health care across the state of Colorado, many people wonder why CIVHC has committed to an effort so specific as improving access to high quality palliative care, especially at such an early stage in our organization’s development. Perhaps an organization such as CIVHC should be more focused on “big picture” issues in Colorado, by identifying where we have the greatest opportunities to impact the quality and cost of care for the largest segments of our population. In 2008, the members of CIVHC’s planning committee took on that exercise, and identified palliative care as one of those opportunities.

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What is CIVHC Doing to Address Palliative Care? Part III of III in a Series of FAQs

In Parts I and II of my series, “What is Palliative Care?”, and “Why Focus on Palliative Care?”, I explained why palliative care has become a specific focus area for CIVHC to address the Triple Aim of improving health, enhancing health care quality and containing costs. In this final post, I'll explain CIVHC’s work to date convening task forces and implementing recommendations to address palliative care Triple Aim opportunities.

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Crunch Time in Health Care

This time of year is sports fan’s heaven but unfortunately I seem to have been born without the “sports fan gene”. Family, friends and colleagues exchange sad, knowing glances at my pathetic mixed sports metaphors and attempts to engage in post-weekend sports banter.  Despite that, as I write this first health care blog of 2013, all I have are sports metaphors floating in my head.  I apologize ahead of time to all sports fans out there.

Having crossed into 2013, the trigger date of 2014 for implementing the biggest elements of the health care law seems imminent...

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Making the Right Care Available When it Matters Most

Several years ago, a friend of mine was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer at a very young age. Treatment options were uncertain and sometimes experimental. He and his family were lucky and were enrolled in a high-quality palliative care program that addressed not just his pain and symptoms, but also helped his family make choices about care in the future, supported his wife in her new role as a caregiver, connected them to resources at the hospital and beyond that could work with them as the disease progressed, and most importantly for him, helped his young daughter come to terms with what his illness could mean for her.

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