Optimizing the success of a palliative care consult service: how to average over 110 consults per month.

Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

PubMedID: 18804945

Radwany S, Mason H, Clarke JS, Clough L, Sims L, Albanese T. Optimizing the success of a palliative care consult service: how to average over 110 consults per month. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2009;37(5):873-83.
The widespread need for palliative care has prompted the development of hospital-based palliative care consult services to provide a more interdisciplinary approach to managing advanced illness and end-of-life concerns. Establishing a successful consult service is a challenging task. This is a descriptive study of the development of a palliative care consult service (PCCS) within a non-profit, multi-hospital health system, and the five successful strategies used to optimize growth over the first five years. The PCCS is a mobile interdisciplinary team established to provide accessible, comprehensive end-of-life care and symptom management to patients with advanced illness within the health care system. Critical to its success, the team developed and maintained a database to document growth and ensure continuous quality improvement. A description of this database is provided, along with current performance outcomes. The program has prospered since its inception in 2002, with a 47% average annual growth over the first five years. The PCCS now averages 110 consults per month and has treated more than 3500 patients. This growth can be directly attributed to the five key strategies that have been used to plan, develop, and expand the program.