Pilot test of an adapted intervention to improve timeliness of referrals to hospice and palliative care for eligible home health patients
Kirk, M. A., Hanson, L. C., Weinberger, M., Haines, E. R., Rokoske, F. S., Powell, B. J., & Birken, S. A. (2019). Pilot test of an adapted intervention to improve timeliness of referrals to hospice and palliative care for eligible home health patients. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 22(10), 1266-1270. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2018.0504
Background: Casarett et al. tested an intervention to improve timeliness of referrals to hospice. Although efficacious in the nursing home setting, it was not tested in other settings of care for seriously ill patients. We, therefore, adapted Casarett's intervention for use in home health (HH). Objective: To assess feasibility, acceptability, and patient outcomes of the adapted intervention. Design: We conducted a nine-week observational pilot test. Setting/Subjects: We conducted our pilot study with two HH agencies. Eligible patients included those who were high risk or frail (identified by the agencies' analytic software as being moderate to high risk for hospitalization or a candidate for hospice referral). Clinical managers identified eligible patients and registered nurses then delivered the intervention, screening patients for hospice appropriateness by asking about care goals, needs, and preferences and initiating appropriate follow-up for patients who screened positive. Measurements: We collected quantitative data on patient enrollment rates and outcomes (election of hospice and/or palliative care). We collected qualitative data on pilot staff experience with the intervention and suggestions for improvement. Results: Pilot HH agencies were able to implement the intervention with high fidelity with minimal restructuring of workflows; 14% of patients who screened positive for hospice appropriateness elected hospice or palliative care. Conclusions: Our findings suggest the adapted intervention was feasible and acceptable to enhance timeliness of hospice and palliative care referral in the HH setting. Additional adaptations suggested by pilot participants could improve impact of the intervention.