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National group selects Dana-Farber as palliative care learning lab


Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston has been chosen as a "national learning lab" that other hospitals across the nation can consult with to improve their palliative (end-of-life) care programs.

Dana-Farber joins just six other facilities across the U.S. chosen by the Hospital-Based Palliative Care Consortium (HBPCC) to be learning labs. Hospitals and health systems interested in implementing or improving their palliative-care services can now also learn "best practices" on-site from Dana-Farber, which has been recognized for possessing exemplary palliative-care services.

Sponsored by the American Hospital Association's Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET), and locally by the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA), the Hospital-Based Palliative Care Consortium is funded by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

"Helping patients and their families deal with end-of-life issues is extraordinarily complex and oftentimes emotionally draining," said Lynn Nicholas, FACHE, MHA's president and CEO. "Even experienced caregivers often struggle with palliative care. The effect on patients is, of course, even greater. The benefit to both caregivers and patients from sharing proven, end-of-life best practices through Dana-Farber is clear, and I'm grateful that MHA and a member hospital is able to demonstrate leadership in this area."

The creation of "learning labs" to assist all hospitals improve their palliative care coincides with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' focus on this area. The commonwealth's Health Care Quality & Cost Council — created under the Health Care Reform Law (Chapter 58) — has set as one of its 2008 goals improving end-of-life care at Massachusetts hospitals.

The HBPCC program, which is offered at no cost to participants, is divided into three phases. Before a day-long visit to the learning lab, participants receive preliminary materials, including the HBPCC curriculum and questions designed to assess their hospital's strengths and weaknesses. The learning lab hospital also contacts participants to review materials, identify the particular needs of their hospital, and set specific goals for the site visit. Once at the learning lab, participants interact with experienced staff and observe best-practices in a real-world setting. As participants implement palliative-care programs in their own hospitals, HBPCC support continues. A Web site provides information, announcements, a CD-ROM, and other tools and resources. An electronic listserv facilitates networking among participating hospitals, learning labs, and HBPCC staff.

"HBPCC has been strengthened by the welcome addition of Dana-Farber as a new learning lab," said John Combes, principal investigator for HBPCC and interim president of HRET. "We are pleased to be partnering with the Massachusetts Hospital Association to offer palliative care professionals nationwide expanded access to expert knowledge, technical assistance, and networking support."

Dana-Farber was selected for their long and diverse history in the palliative care arena. Since 1997, the Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) has provided palliative care for children treated at Dana-Farber and Children's Hospital Boston. Care strategies are intended to optimize the quality of life and promote healing and comfort for children with life-threatening illness. Additionally, the Pain and Palliative Care service developed between Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) has been providing palliative care services since 2001. The consultation service sees outpatients at Dana-Farber and inpatients at BWH, who have cancer or an advanced life-limiting disease other than cancer. Since 2007, the service also has had primary responsibility for cancer patients admitted to Dana-Farber's Intensive Palliative Care Unit team at BWH.

"We are very pleased to join the Hospital-based Palliative Care Consortium as a resource for other hospitals that want to implement palliative care programs,' said Janet Abrahm, MD, director of the Pain and Palliative Care Program at Dana-Farber. "The support for this program from the Health Research Educational Trust confirms that palliative care programs are crucial to delivering the best quality of care to the patients and their families."

"Palliative care is a difficult, ever-evolving area on which all hospitals must focus," said Pat Noga, MHA's senior director of Clinical Affairs. "But through the Hospital-Based Palliative Care Consortium — and the proven, compassionate excellence of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute — the difficult can become easier and the benefit to patients and their families is incalculable."

For more information about this program visit or contact Deb Bohr at or (646) 678-4280.

About MHA

The Massachusetts Hospital Association is a voluntary, not-for-profit organization comprised of hospitals and health systems, related organizations, and other members with a common interest in promoting the health of the people of the Commonwealth. Through leadership in public advocacy, education, and information, MHA represents and advocates for the collective interests of its member hospitals and health systems, and supports their efforts to provide high quality, cost effective, and accessible care.

About Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ( is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.

About HRET

Founded in 1944, the Health Research & Educational Trust ( is a private, not-for-profit organization involved in research, education, and demonstration programs addressing health management and policy issues. An affiliate of the American Hospital Association, HRET collaborates with health care, government, academic, business, and community organizations across the United States to conduct research and disseminate findings that shape the future of health care.

8/21/2017 2:40:33 AM
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