The number of palliative care and hospice programs has grown rapidly in recent years, as a result of the recognition of the unique constellation of skills that are required to manage the symptoms and needs of seriously sick patients, including those who are terminally ill, and the growth in the population living with chronic, debilitating diseases. Although the provision of this specialized care occurs at all levels of the healthcare system, it frequently requires the input of specialized teams. The National Quality Forum (NQF) acknowledged the importance of palliative care and hospice programs when it made them national priority areas for health care quality improvement.
In order to ensure that palliative care and hospice services are of the highest quality, NQF envisions a quality measurement and reporting system focused on these critical areas. As a first step in deriving this system, NQF, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Department of Veterans Affairs, has endorsed a framework to guide the selection of a comprehensive measure set and a set of preferred practices related to palliative and hospice care. Also identified are areas where research is required to fill the gaps in a measurement system.