Objective: Describe the establishment of the palliative care quality network (PCQN) with guidance on how teams can develop similar collaborations.
Background: In the current healthcare environment, palliative care (PC) teams must be able to demonstrate value and provide efficient care while supporting the clinicians who provide that care.
Description: The PCQN is a national quality improvement (QI) collaborative comprised of specialty PC teams from a diverse range of hospitals across the United States Results: PCQN members identified five core activities to support PC teams. 1) Collection of standardized data: 23 core items and 22 optional data elements document patient demographics, consultation characteristics, processes of care, and clinical outcomes. 2) Data analyses with benchmarking including reports generated in real time providing summary, trend, member comparison, and cross-tab analyses. 3) QI collaborative; QI initiatives have addressed pain management, surrogate decision-making, spiritual screening, and anxiety assessment. 4) Education and personal development provided through monthly conference calls, a listserv, PCQN website, and twice-yearly conferences. 5) Financial analysis; a software program enables PC teams to calculate the financial impact of the care provided.
Conclusions: The central tenet of the PCQN is to improve quality of care for patients with serious illness and their families, increase the efficient use of healthcare resources, and support growth and sustainability of PC programs. Building and tending to this community takes time to ensure engagement of all members and remain responsive to evolving needs of patients, families, PC teams, and stakeholders.
Keywords: networking; palliative care; quality improvement; sustainability.