Inaugural Issue #1 – What is the Coalition? Why is it Important?
Welcome to the first blog post from our Coalition. If you have attended a hospice or palliative care conference in the last few years, it is likely that you have heard the proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go farther, go together.” The National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care(also referred to as the Coalition) is a critical mechanism for ensuring that the field goes far. Originally established by four organizations in 2002 to create a foundation for defining quality palliative care, i.e., National Consensus Project, Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, the Coalition is now comprised of nine national organizations representing clinicians from the full interdisciplinary team (physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and physician assistants), researchers, and hospice and palliative care programs. The Coalition’s goals focus on four essential elements, the “Four C’s”: Cooperation, Communication, Coordination, and Collaboration.
These nine hospice and palliative care organizations work independently to improve quality of life for seriously ill patients by addressing the needs of their constituencies in areas such as education, advocacy, quality improvement, research, etc. While each has been incredibly effective on its own, the field as a whole faces many challenges:
⇒Rapid evolution of health care and health policy in the U.S.;
⇒Rapid increase in the number of people who would benefit from palliative care and/or hospice services;
⇒Rapid proliferation of new interventions/initiatives designed to address the high-need, high-cost populations (some with the patient and family in mind, some with cost savings in mind), creating much “noise” around the right way to care for these patients;
⇒Continued misconceptions about what hospice and palliative care can offer and who is eligible for these services; and
⇒Limited resources in our small field.
Using the Four C’s, the Coalition helps the field proactively address these challenges by convening representatives monthly from each organization to strategize on key public policy challenges; improve communication to avoid duplication of effort where possible; and share intellectual resources. We work together to respond to legislative and regulatory opportunities, and are structured to nimbly respond to significant opportunities and threats (e.g., the recent misrepresentation of palliative care by a U.S. Senator). However, the most important function of the Coalition is to initiate and strengthen relationships across the field. As a result of the Coalition, members often feel more comfortable reaching out to each other individually as needed to clarify an issue, brainstorm ideas, and collaborate on new initiatives. By finding natural opportunities to work together, we strengthen each other and increase our impact – both within the field and to external audiences.
Our next post will describe the Coalition’s structure and its core activities and accomplishments. In the meantime, check out the Coalition’s new website where you can find more information about the work of our Coalition.
Amy Melnick, MPA
Executive Director, National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care
Stacie Sinclair, MPP, LBSW
Senior Policy Manager, Center to Advance Palliative Care