What They’re Watching: Chris McFaul

Chris McFaul, CEO of Horizon Hospice, joins us in this edition of What They’re Watching to discuss the transition from curative to palliative care.

What I focus on most is honestly, probably the most difficult conversation in all of health care, and that’s the conversation regarding the transition from curative care to palliative care, because honestly in best intentions, this dialog doesn’t happen. But unfortunately because of that, the three key stakeholders, all three lose.

So the person who’s seriously ill gets the wrong care in the wrong setting at the wrong time. They get invasive care when they probably want comfort, they get the care in the hospital when they probably want to be at home, and they get it so late that it doesn’t have any significant impact on their quality of life.

Secondly, the family, the members of the family, the loved ones who are trying to support this individual going through it are basically stepping on land mines all the way through this path because they’re not equipped. There’s not the support and education. It’s available but it’s not being utilized, and so they really don’t know how to navigate this and often their desire to help, honestly creates in many cases, more difficulty than benefit.

The final key stakeholder that loses is the entire healthcare system.

I think one of the best answers to this problem is palliative care. It’s building a bridge between serious illness and hospice in such a way that people can continue to get their curative care that they want while they grapple with the fact that this decline we talk about is irreversible, and these often invasive procedures are not going to actually be helpful, they’re going to be harmful, and when they go through that with the support of palliative care, again, comfort during all that, whether it’s chemo or whether it’s other things going on in the ICU, you’re going to get palliative care that actually brings comfort. Then they trust the people that are providing that comfort care during the curative phase, and so they can have that dialog about what is our goal for this, what is the expected outcome from this next therapy, and is that going to meet what you expect to come from it?

Note: This was recorded at our 2016 Inland Northwest State of Reform Health Policy Conference on Sept. 14, 2016.