Gaps in Access to Hospice Care
A recent 2021 American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine research article highlights the increasing evidence of disparities in sociodemographic groups’ access to hospice and palliative care services. The research examined disparities across five domains of access, with 60% of studies emphasizing acceptability, affordability and appropriateness as primary barrier points. Other domains included approachability and availability of these services.
Demographic disparities can limit the scale of hospice. According to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), roughly 82% of Medicare decedents in 2018 were Caucasian vs. 8% were African-American; 6.7% were Hispanic, 1.8% were Asian, and only 0.4% of Medicare decedents were Native American. Overcoming these disparities will help all demographics receive valuable hospice care at the end-of-life and help hospice agencies support more populations in their communities.
Using Virtual Care to Expand Access to Hospice Care
Virtual care helps agencies support typically underserved demographics and rural populations with convenient and compassionate access to hospice care. The use of a virtual care platform also optimizes available resources – especially in communities with a shortage of trained specialists and/or rural areas where clinicians have great distances to cover in reaching patients. The technology enables providers to care for more patients, expanding access to hospice services.
With Synzi, agency staff can use HIPAA-compliant secure messaging, video, email and text to increase caregivers’ feelings of support from their hospice providers as they care for their loved ones.
- On-demand Answers (via secure messaging, text/email, and video) helps family caregivers when they experience problems in caring for the patient and need direction on what they should do
- Pain Management Support provides caregivers with the ability to receive video-based instructions for how / when to administer pain medication
- Real-time Video enables additional family members to be included in the virtual visit
Family caregiver anxiety is also alleviated as they are virtually shown how to provide the right kind of care and support during a challenging time. And, unscheduled trips (especially afterhours or on weekends) and the caregivers’ reliance on visiting the ER for answers can be minimized.
With virtual care technology, hospice providers can conduct quicker assessments of patients, facilitate more timely interventions, provide better teaching opportunities for family caregivers, and address caregiver stress in real-time.