Catalyst for Payment Reform

CPR & CAPC Release Guide for Employers on Care for Patients with Serious Illness

Catalyst for Payment Reform & Center to Advance Palliative Care Release Guide for Employers on Care for Patients with Serious Illness

Toolkit offers strategies to improve quality of life, while reducing health care costs for patients and their employers

BERKELEY, Calif. and NEW YORK– Oct. 2, 2018 –Approximately 11 million adults and upwards of 400,000 children in the US live with at least one serious illness, a number expected to increase significantly over the next two decades. And yet palliative care, specialized medical care that focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness, is underused and providers generally often don’t know when to refer. This leads to significant gaps in care.

To educate employers and other health care purchasers on the value of palliative care, Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR) and the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) developed the Purchaser Toolkit for Serious Illness Care Strategies.

Health care purchasers and patients alike have a lot to gain by improving access to palliative care. “Strengthening the focus on improving the quality of life of employees living with serious illness, as well as their caregivers, also reduces health care costs for both the employee and their employer,” said Suzanne Delbanco, PhD, CPR executive director. “Purchasers could get greater value out of their health care strategies if they integrate palliative care.”

Palliative care consultations for patients in the hospital has been associated with improved quality of life, reduced length of stay and reduced readmissions, leading to 19.2% lower costs per hospital admission. These cost savings come from reducing the delivery of treatments that are not aligned with patient goals, are not likely to provide clinical benefit, and may actually carry risks of harm.

Employers and other health care purchasers can play a powerful role in improving care for people living with serious illness by demanding certain capabilities and services from contracted health plans, other vendors, and health care providers. These include:

  • Proactive identification of the population of patients living with a serious illness
  • Training all health care providers in basic communication and symptom management skills
  • Access to certified specialty palliative care teams across care settings
  • Access to appropriately trained case managers
  • Specific benefits that include home-based services and support for caregivers

“The current health care system is ill-equipped to meet the needs of people living with serious illness,” notes Diane E. Meier, MD, director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care. “Health care purchasers can change this by playing a pivotal role in helping employees and family members avoid unnecessary suffering and preventable crises. This guide for employers gives them the practical information and tools they need to drive new capabilities and approaches.”

The Purchaser Toolkit for Serious Illness Care Strategies 

The Toolkit is designed to help purchasers develop a new palliative care strategy or infuse palliative care into existing health care programs. It includes key resources including a Request for Information (RFI): Access to Comprehensive and High-Quality Serious Illness Care, Evaluation Guidance and Model Responses, and an Accountable Care Organization Checklist, among others. The Toolkit is paired with a How-to-Guide for Serious Illness Care Strategies that helps educate employers and other health care purchasers on the value of palliative care, how it can improve the quality of life for employees living with serious illness and their caregivers, and in so doing, reduce health care costs for them, as well as for their employers. 


About CAPC

The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC)is a national organization dedicated to increasing the availability of quality palliative care services for people facing serious illness. CAPC provides hospitals, health systems, health plans, and other health care organizations with the tools, training, technical assistance, and metrics needed to support the successful implementation and integration of palliative care. With more than 1,300 organizational members, CAPC provides support for program development, clinical skill training, and national leadership.For more information, visit

About Catalyst for Payment Reform

Catalyst for Payment Reform is an independent, non-profit organization working on behalf of large employers and other health care purchasersto catalyze employers, public purchasers and others to implement strategies that produce higher-value health care and improve the functioning of the health care marketplace. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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