How to Determine the Optimum Time for Hospice Care Referral and Enrollment

Hospice care involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care providing pain management and emotional and spiritual support for terminally ill patients who are no longer receiving curative care, and when the person is expected to die within 6 months if the disease runs its natural course. National guidelines have consistently suggested that referral for hospice care is the best approach for medical management of patients with end-of-life needs, yet only about half of all patients who die are ever referred for such care. Data have also shown that of those patients who are referred to hospice, many live for less than 3 weeks, thereby denying patients and families the potential benefits of a concerted approach to care by the hospice team over a longer timeframe. The center of the hospice belief is that patients should be allowed the right to die pain-free and with dignity, at the place of their choice, and that families will receive the necessary support to allow them to do so, and yet hospice is clearly underutilized. This presentation will focus on the identification of strategies that can be employed to ensure timely referral and acceptance of hospice care.

Learning Objectives
At the end of this educational activity, participants should be able to

  1. Review the medical criteria for patient eligibility for hospice, know the available applications “apps” to confirm eligibility
  2. Recognize when to begin end-of-life care conversations and discussions regarding hospice care with patients and families, and discuss why hospice is underutilized
  3. Identify when a decision about entering a hospice program should be made, who should make the referral, and some “prompts” that increase referrals
  4. Recognize the importance of timely referral to hospice and the impact this has on promoting the best possible quality of life for patients as they near life’s end
  5. Summarize the benefits to clinicians, patients, and their families for timely referral of patients for hospice care

Method of Participation
There are no fees for participating in or receiving credit for this activity.
For information on applicability and acceptance of continuing education credit for this activity, please consult your professional licensing board.

Participants will receive a certificate on successful completion of the activity, which includes the following:

  • Completing the entire activity
  • Completing the Pre- and Post-Activity Assessments, Activity Evaluation, and Application for Certificate of Credit forms

You must be logged in to your account to participate in this activity. Begin by clicking “Begin” and clicking on and viewing the CE Info; then follow the prompts at the bottom of the screen. At the end of the activity, you will be able to view, save, or print your certificate of participation. The Area of Practice you indicated in your profile corresponds with your certificate type. A complete listing of all of your activities can be found in your profile.

Method for Calculating CE Credit
CE credit was calculated by the complexity of content.

Faculty Listing
Thomas J. Smith, MD, FACP, FASCO, FAAHPM
Director of Palliative Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Professor of Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
Harry J. Duffey Family Professor of Palliative Medicine
Baltimore, Maryland

Faculty Disclosure
As a provider accredited by the ACCME, OptumHealth Education requires the disclosure of any relevant financial relationship a faculty member has with the manufacturer(s) of any product discussed in this educational presentation.
Dr Smith has no financial relationships to disclose.
Dr Smith does intend to discuss unapproved/investigative use of commercial products/devices.

Staff Disclosures
In compliance with the ACCME's Standards for Commercial Support, employees of OptumHealth Education who have control over content of an activity are required to disclose their relevant financial relationships. No employee has a relevant financial relationship regarding this activity.

Activity Planners
Sarah Chart-Hart, RN
Senior Activity Director
OptumHealth Education

Arlene Rome, BSN, RN
Activity Manager
OptumHealth Education

Reviewer Disclosures
To ensure fair balance and avoid bias, the content for this activity has been reviewed by an independent medical expert with no relevant financial relationships and has been approved by OptumHealth Education.

Sponsored By
This activity is sponsored by OptumHealth Education.

Commercial Support
This activity is supported by Optum Palliative and Hospice Care, formerly Evercare Hospice & Palliative Care.

Hardware/Software Requirements
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Target Audience

This activity is designed to meet the educational needs of physicians, nurses, case managers, social workers, chaplains, and others who have an interest in topics relevant to hospice care.

You must be logged into your account to participate in this activity. Once logged in, begin by clicking “Begin” and viewing the "CE Info"; then follow the prompts at the bottom of the screen. 

Additional Information

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Activity summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.00 AMA - Physicians
  • 1.00 ANCC - Nurses
  • 1.00 Attendance - General Attendance
  • 1.00 CCMC - General - Case Managers
  • 1.00 ASWB - Social Workers
Activity opens: 
Activity expires: 

Available Credit

  • 1.00 AMA - Physicians
  • 1.00 ANCC - Nurses
  • 1.00 Attendance - General Attendance
  • 1.00 CCMC - General - Case Managers
  • 1.00 ASWB - Social Workers
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