John Harney, COO at University of Colorado Hospital, moved west in 2008 after working at New York University Hospitals Center. The East Coast hospital had used a grant to establish a palliative-care program and witnessed immediate results.
“We truly believed it resulted in reductions in length of stay, as well as humanistic benefits,” Harney says. “When I came out to Colorado, I was pleasantly surprised at the breadth and depth of the programs here.”
Harney says he believes HM is a logical place to advance palliative care to the next level, as most HM groups already possess an in-house presence and commitment to efficient throughput. Hospital administrators will be concerned with consistency, routines, and protocols, he says, as well as the palliative-care service’s commitment to quality improvement. Those same administrators appreciate the need for program and salary support, although he advises palliative-care advocates to do their homework and develop a viable business plan.
“Hospital administrators will quickly figure out the math,” Harney says. “If you’re coming to speak to us, you need to have your numbers in order. You also need some monitoring in place.”
The initial salvo should include confirmation that HM group leaders have done their homework: surveyed their HM staff and discussed the idea with oncologists and other specialists. “It’s also helpful to have real champions in nursing and social work,” Harney says. “It’s never easy to get financial support for a new program, but if you have those ducks lined up, it goes better.”