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The Development of a Palliative Care Program for Managed Care Patients: A Case Example


Address correspondence to Dr. Gail Gazelle, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, 133 Brookline Avenue, Suite 6115, Boston, MA 02215.


Palliative care is emerging as an important new field. Although programs are developing in hospital environments, little is known about development of programs in outpatient practices or those serving large managed care populations. This article provides a framework for the development of a comprehensive palliative care program in a large multispecialty group practice that serves managed care patients. The article addresses guiding principles, the need for obtaining baseline data, how the clinical consultation service was established, development of outcomes measures, and information on current program status. Five themes emerged as key to successful program development, most importantly the close collaboration between administrative and clinical staff in all aspects of program development.