$9.6 million CMS Health Care Innovation Award for community-based palliative care

May 28, 2014 – The project will test a new model for community-based palliative care spanning inpatient and outpatient settings.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has awarded a CMS Health Care Innovation award, worth $9.6 million, to the DCRI’s Center for Learning Health Care (CLHC) in partnership with Four Seasons Compassion for Life, a non-profit provider of end-of-life care in Western North Carolina. Amy Abernethy, MD, PhD, is the director of the CLHC.

Their project, “Increasing Patient and System Value with Community-based Palliative Care,” will test a new model for community-based palliative care spanning inpatient and outpatient settings. The model features interdisciplinary collaboration and the integration of palliative care into the health care system, continuity of care across transitions, and longitudinal, individualized support for patients and families. This expands upon a successful program in four Western North Carolina counties to include an additional ten counties. With community-based palliative care, care coordination ensures clinical follow-up of patients as they transition across settings. Standardized assessments and data infrastructure facilitate quality monitoring/improvement and high-quality patient care leading to decreased hospital readmissions.

“We are honored to have such wonderful partners in Four Seasons,” said Amy Abernethy, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine (Medical Oncology) and director of the Center for Learning Health Care at Duke.

“On behalf of all my colleagues at Four Seasons, we are equally honored to work alongside our partners at Duke,” said Janet Bull, MD, chief medical officer at Four Seasons. She first met Dr. Abernethy nearly 10 years ago when Abernethy gave a presentation in Asheville.

“She was giving a talk on evidence-based medicine, and it was truly brilliant,” said Dr. Bull. “Our team literally tackled her and we talked for hours.”

It was at that meeting that Bull and Abernethy and their colleagues decided to put together a research team for a study on palliative oxygen for patients with dyspnea at Four Seasons. The CMS Health Care Innovation award will allow the team to build on their collaboration.

A host of Duke leaders offered their congratulations.

“This is a project with the potential for tremendous impact,” said Mary Klotman, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine.

“A fantastic gift to people nearing end of life,” said Rob Califf, MD, professor of medicine (Cardiology) and vice chancellor for clinical research.

Learn more at innovation.cms.gov.