Palliative Care and its medical subspecialty, known as Palliative Medicine, is the care of anyone with a serious illness. This emerging field includes Hospice and comfort care, however, it is not limited to end-of-life care. Examples of the types of serious illness that Palliative Medicine clinicians care for include and are not limited to hematologic and oncologic diseases, such as cancer, advanced heart and lung diseases (e.g., congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder), advanced liver and kidney diseases, and advanced neurologic illnesses (e.g., Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease). In the past decade, there has been tremendous growth of Palliative Medicine programs across the country. As the population of patients with serious illnesses increases, there is growing concentration on quality of care, including symptom management, meeting patients' goals regarding their medical care and providing various types of support, all of which are provided by Palliative Medicine. In this review article we define Palliative Medicine, describe care pathways and their applicability to Palliative Medicine, identify different models for Palliative Care and provide evidence for its impact on cost and quality of care.
Keywords: clinical pathways; cost-effectiveness; hospice; palliative care; palliative medicine; quality; serious illness.