Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (Blue Cross) has announced the launch of a comprehensive program aimed at improving quality-of-life for individuals and families facing advanced illnesses and the end of life.
Beginning in 2016, Blue Cross will:
Expand coverage for conversations between members and their clinicians about planning for advanced illness and end-of-life care. Blue Cross already pays medical providers for having these conversations and, as of January 1, 2016, will also pay behavioral health providers in recognition of the important role they can play in facilitating difficult discussions.
Support increased education and training on how to prepare for advanced illness and end-of-life care, with initiatives aimed at Blue Cross members, their families, and the clinicians who care for them.
Enhance member benefits to encourage earlier and expanded use of hospice care.
Introduce a new program to help members with advanced illness receive high-quality palliative care for the prevention and relief of suffering, in their own homes. The program is being developed with input from clinicians and patients and families.
Research has shown that timely advanced illness care, with a strong emphasis on patient-clinician communication, can result in: better quality of life and satisfaction as reported by patients and families; better coping by bereaved family members; care that is more aligned with a patients’ wishes; a greater likelihood of remaining safely at home; and even some increase in survival time.
Blue Cross also announced that it is partnering with Ariadne Labs, which has developed a new, patient-centered, systematic approach to improving communication between critically ill patients and their clinicians through its Serious Illness Care Program.