Having the Hospice Conversation with Your Oncology Patients

By Kindred Hospice
Monday, November 20, 2017

Did you know that 44 percent of the hospice population is made up of patients with cancer? A national study found the mean survival for hospice patients to be 29 days longer than non-hospice patients, and it was significantly longer for patients with certain types of cancer who are in hospice care.

Every oncologist knows that having a family conversation about hospice is never easy. Asking your patients what they understand about their diagnosis can be a good way to initiate a dialogue and to gauge their impression of their condition. This can also be an opportunity to talk to your patients about their treatment options.

As an oncologist, you cannot predict exactly when your patient will die, but you know when a cure isn’t possible. Hospice emphasizes comfort and quality of life when a disease is terminal, meaning the prognosis for life expectancy is less than six months if the illness runs its normal course.

Here are some tips, but remember that a member of our team can have this difficult conversation with your patients and their family members if you prefer.

  • Many people think that hospice care is only for the last few days of life when, in fact, patients can receive it much earlier. The most frequent feedback received from families on customer satisfaction surveys is that they wish they had learned of hospice sooner.
  • Hospice focuses on quality of life — managing pain and symptoms and receiving comfort as well as emotional and spiritual support.
  • The hospice benefit is available through Medicare and it provides additional support services to help you cope with the advancing illness. Through Medicare, hospice is covered 100 percent.
  • The hospice benefit provides prescriptions, equipment and supplies related to the cancer diagnosis.
  • Hospice oncology patients can continue to see their own primary care and specialist physicians.
  • Hospice supports patients and their family through the journey with spiritual and emotional care, including 13 months of bereavement support.
  • Patients are granted access to hospice regardless of the presence or absence of an advance directive, though hospice often facilitates these being completed.

Not All Hospice Agencies Are the Same

We partner with you to serve your patients’ hospice needs. Our services can provide benefits not only to your patients, but also to your practice. Here are some of the ways we partner with physicians:

Your End-of-Life Care Expert. We serve as your resource to help with the hospice conversation with your patients. Choosing hospice is often a difficult decision for your patients and their families. We help lead this conversation with patients every day and can ease the anxiety of the transition from cure to comfort.

Your Eyes and Ears in the Home. We have the information you need and can help reduce repeated patient phone calls. From answering questions about the plan of care to calling in medication refills, we alleviate the stress on your office.

Custom Communication. Our interdisciplinary team keeps you informed in a way that meets your needs. Whether you want a fax, phone call or email, we accommodate your preferences. We customize our relationship to suit your practice.

Hospice Reimbursement Assistance. Medicare reimburses attending physicians for care plan oversight. As hospice specialists, we can assist you in learning more.

Local Care You Can Depend On. Our staff and caregivers are members of the community you know and trust.

Ease of Referral. To refer to us, simply call 866-546-3733 and we will visit the patient. We perform an evaluation and begin care.

Soon to open, Rapid Recovery Center-San Antonio by Mainstreet Health (RRC-SA), brings an innovative model of post-acute care to our community.


NHPCO 2012