Integrating Case Management and Palliative Care

Diane E. Meier, William Thar, Ashby Jordan, Suzanne L. Goldhirsch, Albert Siu, R. Sean Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Most seriously ill Americans live at home under the care of their primary physician and with the support of family caregivers. To reduce costs while simultaneously improving the quality of patient care, insurers have increasingly turned to the concept of case management. While case management is targeted to individuals with life-threatening illnesses, palliative care assessment and interventions are typically not included in the management protocols. An academic/care management/health plan partnership between Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Franklin Health, a care management organization, and South Carolina Blue Cross Blue Shield, was formed in 1998 to test the utility of integration of case management with formal palliative care assessment, feedback and recommendations to treating physicians, and ongoing support for implementation of a palliative care plan. The goal of the project was to ensure identification and optimal care of seriously ill patients' complex needs, while facilitating doctor-patient continuity, improving patient/family/physician communication, providing assistance with decision-making, ensuring quality care at home, and promoting efficient use of health care resources. Care management nurses were randomly assigned to a control (usual care) group or to the intervention (palliative care) group. Intervention nurses were trained in formal palliative care assessment and interventions, supported by treatment protocols and communication strategies with treating physicians. Measurements included symptom burden, prescribing practices, advance care planning status, satisfaction, and health care utilization. These results are pending completion of study run-out and analysis. Preliminary programmatic results indicate that combining palliative care with the case management approach is a logical, feasible, and effective strategy to improve the care of seriously ill patients living in the community. Franklin Health has offered the program to their entire client base because they feel that the integration of palliative care into their case management program improved the standard of patient care. Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina has also chosen to sustain this enhanced model of care management for seriously ill patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-134
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004


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