Givin’ Props to End of Life Care

What do you get when you combine Health Policy with Bracketology?

Modern Healthcare recently held a public tournament in celebration of its 35th birthday in order to determine what “one person, event, organization or innovation had the biggest impact on the health care delivery system in the past 35 years.” The tournament began on April 4 with 64 contestants—16 in each of those four brackets: People, Events, Organizations and Innovations.  And the winner? Not EMRs, not the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not even the runner-up Institute for Healthcare Improvement. (I guess Don Berwick’s pull isn’t what it used to be….)

No, it was Hospice.  Low cost, humane, person-to-person end of life care.  People did it long before the term was coined in 1967.  As The Onion famously pointed out a few years ago, the world’s death rate is “still holding steady at 100%” guaranteeing that all of us will eventually face these challenges, and hopefully not alone.

All discussion of its impact on costs aside, it’s remarkable that with all the advances of medical science, we (or at least the Modern Healthcare readership) still haven’t lost sight of what can be fairly called the spiritual dimensions of care— and  most particularly the importance of humane intimacy between a caregiver and a patient in their final days.

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