BACKGROUND: Key Information Summaries (KIS) were introduced throughout Scotland in 2013 so that anticipatory care plans written by general practitioners (GPs) could be routinely shared electronically and updated in real time, between GPs and providers of unscheduled and secondary care.
AIMS: We aimed to describe the current reach of anticipatory and palliative care, and to explore GPs' views on using KIS.
METHODS: We studied the primary care records of all patients who died in 2014 in 9 diverse Lothian practices. We identified if anticipatory or palliative care had been started, and if so how many weeks before death and which aspects of care had been documented. We interviewed 10 GPs to understand barriers and facilitating factors.
RESULTS: Overall, 60% of patients were identified for a KIS, a median of 18 }weeks before death. The numbers identified were highest for patients with cancer, with 75% identified compared with 66% of those dying with dementia/frailty and only 41% dying from organ failure. Patients were more likely to die outside hospital if they had a KIS. GPs identified professional, patient and societal challenges in identifying patients for palliative care, especially those with non-cancer diagnoses.
CONCLUSIONS: GPs are identifying patients for anticipatory and palliative care more equitably across the different disease trajectories and earlier in the disease process than they were previously identifying patients specifically for palliative care. However, many patients still lack care planning, particularly those dying with organ failure.
Background: The objective of the Balearic Islands Palliative Care (PC) Program is to improve the quality of PC through a shared model consisting of primary health care professionals, home-based PC teams, and PC units in hospitals. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), patients with advanced cancer and other terminal diseases benefit from early identification and proactive PC. We will evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention in which a PC leader is established in the primary health care center, and assess the effect of this intervention on the early identification of patients in need of PC, the efficient use of health care services, and direct health care costs.
Methods: Design: A two-arm cluster randomized clinical trial of 30 Primary Health Care Centers (PHCC) in Mallorca (Spain), in which each center was randomized to an intervention arm or a usual care arm. We expect that the number of patients identified as suitable for PC (including non-oncological PC) is at least 5% greater in the intervention arm.
Sample size: A total of 4640 deceased patients. Outcomes will be assessed by a blinded external review of the electronic records.
Interventions: General practitioners (GPs) and nurse leaders in PC for each PHCC will be appointed. These leaders will help promote PC training of colleagues, improve symptom management and psychological support of patients, and evaluate the complexity of individual cases so that these cases receive assistance from PC home-based teams.
Measurements: Early identification (>90 days before death), evaluation of case complexity, level of case complexity (with referral to a home-based PC team), use and cost of hospital and primary care services, and quality of life during the last month of life (=2 emergency room visits, =2 hospital admissions, =14 days of hospitalization).
Discussion: PC leaders in primary care teams will improve the early identification of patients eligible for PC. This initiative could improve the quality of end-of-life care and utilization of hospital resources.