Monday, February 26, 2018

Gala 2018: Honoring Hospice Innovators

All of us at NHPCO and NHF are gearing up for the 2018 Management and Leadership Conference and Advocacy Intensive. That means we are in the midst of planning the annual National Hospice Foundation Gala, held on Tuesday, April 24.

The theme of this year’s gala is Honoring the Innovators of Hospice.*  Our celebration will honor innovators that made the Medicare Hospice Benefit a reality, cared for HIV/AIDS patients, and brought national attention to quality of life at the end of life.

We are at another critical moment where we need to move hospice and advanced illness care to the forefront of the healthcare discussion. And to do so requires innovative ideas, and innovative people behind those ideas.

Event highlights will be the silent and exciting live auction that will feature unique items and packages you won’t want to miss.  In addition, there will be a special appeal for the Disaster Relief Fund. Musical entertainment from talented cellist, Benjamin Gates, and a live funk with soul band will get you out of your seat and on the dance floor.

Gala sponsorships are available at every level of support and individual tickets are $250. Dress to impress in your best formal attire.

For more information about how to purchase tickets, become a sponsor, donate an auction item, or Honor a Hospice Innovator*, contact Joy Nguyen at, 703-647-5167, or visit

*Honoring the Innovators of Hospice
NHF wants to showcase these innovators at the gala through stories printed on keepsake postcards at every attendee’s seat. An investment of $1,000 will enable you to share their story with NHF and the hospice community.  This is the opportunity to honor an outstanding healthcare professional and/or individual innovator.

Joy Nguyen, CFRE
Director, Events and Major Giving
National Hospice Foundation

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Competitive Advantage of Certified Hospice Physicians

More and more hospices are seeing the competitive advantage that having certified hospice physicians can provide. In fact, there are hospices who are now supporting 100% physician certification. One of those is Agapé Hospice in South Carolina, which made the decision in 2017 to do so.

According to Chief Operating Officer, DeeDee Henderson, “We believe in supporting our physicians with programs recognized with best practices and clinical & administrative expertise in end-of-life care. Having certified hospice physicians further demonstrates to our patients, families and communities our commitment to quality.”

Henderson is encouraging her hospice physicians and medical directors to participate in the certification program through the Hospice Medical Director Certification Board (HMDCB), a program which has certified more than 800 physicians, at least one from all 50 states, since its first exam in 2014. Henderson said, “We are excited about the partnership with HMDCB to drive continuous improvement and professionalism.”

So what is the value of having HMDCB-certified physician leaders in your hospice?

Enhanced Partnership – A physician who has achieved the HMDC credential is an effective partner in the administrative, regulatory, and compliance issues that you regularly face in your role as CEO or administrator, helping you to mitigate the risks inherent in running your hospice. Having a highly informed and knowledgeable lead physician, and creating an effective partnership between the CEO and HMD, is a recipe for success in today’s hospice environment.

Marketability – By employing HMDCs and supporting their efforts to earn the credential, you increase your competitive advantage. Patients and families can be comforted knowing you are investing in physicians who have chosen to differentiate themselves from their peers, and in today’s competitive hospice environment, there is an opportunity for your hospice to showcase this value as you market your services.

Clinical Leadership – Heightened regulatory attention requires that hospices invest in ongoing training and education for their medical staff to be effective leaders. HMDCB-certified physicians have been tested specifically on medical leadership and communication, providing them with a verifiable assessment of their ability to be an effective leader of your hospice’s IDG.

Compliance – HMDC credential holders have reaffirmed and enhanced their knowledge in both clinical and nonclinical topics important to ensuring hospices provide high quality care and meet compliance requirements. Topics tested include not only clinical topics, but also medical leadership and communication, professionalism, and systems-based practice. Take a look at HMDCB’s Content Blueprint to get a full picture of the areas tested. 

The 2018 application cycle for the HMDCB exam is now open through March 27. If physicians apply prior to March 6, they will save $250 on their application fee. Learn more about HMDCB and get questions answered by visiting

Don’t delay – encourage your physicians to apply today

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Calling all programs interested in providing community-based palliative care!

NHPCO is investing in tools and resources to support community-based palliative care program development, implementation, and sustainability.  

We have several resources available under the Palliative Care tab on our website. We also have the “Find a Provider map accessible from the home page using the drop down to switch the search to Palliative Care Provider. Please make sure we have up to date information on your program(s), especially hospice members that have added palliative care programs in recent years. You need to “get on the map!”

Our 2018 Management and Leadership Conference preconference offering, Community-Based Palliative Care:Getting Started and Making it Work (April 21 & 22), is an excellent place to start for programs that are exploring program development, are early in their program implementation, or are struggling with sustainability. The last two palliative care preconference events had an average session rating of 4.8 (out of a 5 point scale, with 5 being the highest rating).  Here are some comments from participants: “I will update my strategic plan with this new information” and “This information directly impacts the trajectory of our palliative service line.”

There is still time to register for the Community-Based Palliative Care Preconference at MLC! (Learn more about April's MLC & Advocacy Intensive.)

Next steps include reactivating the Palliative Care Council. Dr. Balu Natarajan, Chief Medical Officer for Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care and NHPCO Board member, will serve as our Council Chair. The Council will identify exemplary programs to be practice examples for our Palliative Care Toolkits. That is right, we heard you! We know you are asking for practical tools to help you develop, implement, and sustain community-based palliative care programs. We also know you have limited dollars to dedicate to association memberships, so let us fill this need for you by being your one-stop shop for hospice and palliative/advanced care resources. The Council will also explore ways NHPCO can support data collection so our palliative programs can demonstrate value to their various stakeholders, including consumers, health systems, health plans (payers), board of directors, legislators, etc.

Thank you for your patience. We know NHPCO has some catching up to do to meet your palliative care needs. That is why I am here. My background is strong in the clinical and administrative operations of hospice and innovative palliative care programs in both rural and urban settings. I am passionate about moving the hospice model upstream without sacrificing the value and timely connection of patients to traditional hospice services. So please help me, help you. Reach out to me and share your dreams, aspirations and pain points about developing, implementing, and sustaining a palliative or advanced care program. We want to highlight programs that are being successful with palliative and advanced care programs. Let’s start some synergy between those that are being successful within our membership and those that are striving to get there. We are the experts in community-based holistic person-centered care for seriously ill individuals and their families.  We got this!

 Lori Bishop, MHA, BSN, RN, CHPN
Vice President of Palliative & Advanced Care
National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thoughts on the Tragedy in Florida

We have enough grief and loss without inflicting it upon ourselves.  We are heartbroken by the school shooting in Florida, as we were heartbroken by the shooting in Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook, and beyond. I am sorry to those who feel that it is not our issue, and not my role. As a leader, a father, a husband, and a human being, I feel compelled to write every time we witness these tragedies.  I wrote the following thoughts after the Las Vegas shooting, and I share them again today—

“As hospice professionals, we know that grief and loss are a part of life. But there is enough grief and loss. There is simply no place in a civilized society for the blatant disregard for human dignity that we saw in [Florida]. Let us also remember that 100 people die from gun violence every single day—in America’s cities, of suicide, and sometimes in mass shootings. This has to stop. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. America needs grief counseling, to be sure, and we’ll be called upon to provide it. But let’s recommit ourselves to making sure that we do more than that. Whatever our political leanings and religious beliefs, I think we can all agree that innocent folks should not be killed. In the coming months, I’m going to be talking more about how hospice and palliative care professionals can be leaders in helping America cope with its many challenges."

Thank you for the work that you do every day. 


Edo Banach, JD
President and CEO

Thursday, February 8, 2018

One Year In

I enter February, 2018 with almost a year under my belt.  2017 was a whirlwind of learning and listening, meeting new friends, and sketching out our future.   My travels have filled my heart, head, and belly- with amazingly dedicated professionals, sharp leaders, and fried bologna sandwiches, in that order.  If 2017 was a year for education and listening, 2018 is a year for change and action.

Change is not just on the horizon – it’s already here.  Accountable Care Organizations, Independence at Home, Value Based Purchasing and various other models are competing for patients and scarce Medicare dollars. As I traveled the country last year, I heard concern about that change.  But along with that concern, I heard many common themes that give me hope for our collective future – a shared set of values, a commitment to the patients and families we serve, and a communal pride that we are the absolute best at what we do.  These principles – which emanate from the heart of hospice – are what will serve as the guiding principles for action in 2018 and beyond:
  • We are the interdisciplinary, person-centered, integrated, coordinated benefit that Medicare has been covering for over 35 years.  What is secondary and new to the rest of Medicare, is central to Hospice. 
  • We do much more than provide care to individuals—we care for caregivers and communities as well.
  • We must better communicate our value to our payers and partners—government, managed care, and all other three and four-letter words in between.
  • Once we establish that foundation, we must energize ourselves—and our volunteers and caregivers—to make sure that we communicate our value to legislative and regulatory decision makers.
  • Having energized ourselves and communicated our value, and having established a solid foundation, it is time to boldly establish a more durable vehicle for providing more care, without arbitrary rules (6 months, no concurrent care) and that is not subject to burdensome and non-productive oversight and compliance activity.
  • Concurrently, we will focus on pre-hospice serious illness care that is informed and motivated by the same focus on interdisciplinary, person-centered care.  Not emanating from clinicians, institutions or algorithms, this team-based approach has been our bedrock for over 35 years and will continue to be at our core going forward.

I look forward to moving ahead without forgetting our past. We are the original interdisciplinary, person-centered, population health movement. We welcome everyone else’s interest—and that includes Amazon—but I submit that they have as much to learn from us as we have to learn from them.  I’m grateful to lead NHPCO at this important time, and look forward to working with and for all of you in the coming years.  

To life— 

Edo Banach, JD
President and CEO

Monday, February 5, 2018

National Consensus Project Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, 4th Edition

In January 2017, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation awarded the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care (NCHPC) and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation a two-year grant to update the National Consensus Project (NCP) Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care to be inclusive for all people with serious illness, regardless of setting, diagnosis, prognosis, or age.

Building on the success of the NCP Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Care, 3rd edition (2013), this two-year project involves national stakeholder organizations, including representatives from a broad range of care settings, accrediting bodies, payers, and community services organizations. Previous versions of the NCP Guidelines were more applicable to specialist level palliative care within hospital and hospice settings, and the new NCP Guidelines will be broadened to encompass palliative care delivery by all clinicians caring for the seriously ill in all care settings.

NCP Stakeholder Strategic Directions Summit
To launch this effort, a NCP Stakeholder Strategic Directions Summit was held June 29-30, 2017 to bring together key national organizations to discuss and define essential elements of quality primary and specialty palliative care services in the community. The Summit was attended by 58 representatives from 43 national/regional organizations, that covered a broad range of care settings, provider associations, accrediting bodies, payers, and community services organizations.

The Stakeholder Strategic Directions Summit was the first major step to solicit input for the NCP Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, 4th edition (2018).  A NCP Stakeholder Summit Summary Report is available to download that captures key themes, considerations, and ideas discussed during the Summit.

What's New and Different
 Based on the feedback from the Stakeholder Summit, each of the eight domains for the 4th edition will include guidelines and criteria re:

  • Care coordination
  • Caregiving
  • Care transitions
  • Communication
  • Comprehensive assessment
  • Cultural inclusiveness
Also, clinical and operational implications, practice examples, evidence-based references, and a list of specific tools/resources will be provided for each domain.
In addition, a systematic review with a formal grading of the evidence is being added to the original project scope to align with the criteria required for inclusion in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) National Guideline Clearinghouse™.
Project Timeline
With the addition of the systematic review, the publication date for the National Consensus Project (NCP) Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, 4th Edition, is set for fall 2018.  To stay informed about the latest updates with the 4th edition, visit

National Consensus Project Leadership

NCP Steering Committee and Writing Workgroup:
  • Includes representatives from nine member organizations of the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care and representatives from seven other national organizations, and subject matter experts.
Steering Committee Co-Chairs:
  • Betty Ferrell, PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN (HPNA representative)
  • Martha Twaddle, MD, FACP, FAAHPM (AAHPM representative)
Writing Workgroup Co-Chairs:
  • Tracy Schroepfer, PhD (SWPHN representative)
  • Stacie Sinclair, MPP (CAPC representative)
NCHPC Executive Director: Amy Melnick, MPA NCP Project Director: Gwynn Sullivan, MSN NCP Writer/Editor: Kathy Brandt, MS NCP Coordinator: Cozzie King NCP Research AssistantVivian Miller, LMSW

Please direct any questions regarding the NCP to
By Gwynn B. Sullivan, MSN
Project Director
National Consensus Project

Thursday, February 1, 2018

NCHPP & MyNHPCO – Your Connection to the Hospice & Palliative Care Community

When I was working in the hospice provider community as a development and communications professional, I was eager to find peers in similar hospice organizations to network with. I worked at a small, rural, non-profit and was a department of one.

I was thrilled to learn that NHPCO had a group called the National Council of Hospice and Palliative Care Professionals or NCHPP. I was even more excited to learn that the online networking community MyNHPCO existed, giving me the ability to participate in discussions and learn more about what my peers were working on in their own organizations.  I had the ability to connect with others who worked for similar sized organizations and dealt with the same challenges and opportunities that I had dealt with.

When I attended my first MLC, I participated in the NCHPP networking lunch on the first day of the conference. It was so great to meet like-minded professionals in person, and share ideas and struggles.

Now that I’m working on the “other side,” I’m learning more about how valuable NCHPP and MyNHPCO are to our members. NCHPP is community of 14,000 strong and continues to grow every day. If you aren’t connected, what are you waiting for?

NCHPP is a collaborative of 15 discipline-specific groups advancing end-of-life care within their discipline and through interdisciplinary collaboration. NHPCO members can choose a primary and secondary section.

NHPCO’s online professional networking community connects you with other hospice and palliative care professionals. You will find a community for your NCHPP sections as well as several others that might interest you. You can share your professional expertise and find solutions to challenges through discussion boards, direct messages, and a comprehensive resource library.

One of the most exciting features of NCHPP is the free monthly chat opportunities. Most NCHPP sections hold a monthly chat on a topic relevant to the section.  Chats are coordinated by the section steering committee and are led by experts in the topic they are instructing. In 2017 the NCHPP community held 82 chats with over 10,400 attendees. Chat topics included: 
  • Ethical Considerations in Bereavement Care (Bereavement Professionals) 
  • The Top 3 Concerns Families Have About Their Dying Loved One (Certified Nursing Assistant) 
  • How to Share Your Stories: Merging Fundraising and Human Interest (Development, PR, Marketing) 
  • Building an Integrative Program Utilizing Evidenced-Based Practice and Outcome Measures (Integrative and Rehabilitative Therapies) 
  • FAQs & Tips Regarding the HIS and Hospice Quality Reporting Program (Quality Assessment/Performance Improvement) 
  • “Why is there a social worker on my couch?” Communicating Our Role to Patients, Families, and Colleagues (Social Work) 
  • Soul Candy: Stories, Readings, and Blessings for Centerings and Team Meetings (Spiritual Caregiver) 
  • Improving Staff/Volunteer Relationships (Volunteer/Volunteer Management)
Even though you are encouraged to designate only a primary and secondary NCHPP section in your member record in the official database (this is done through the “my account” prompt you may access when logged into}, you can attend chats and follow the activity in other sections through MyNHPCO. If you think there are other sections that might have information relevant to your job or would be of interest, sign up to be a part of that community on MyNHPCO and you will receive chat notifications.  You can sign up for as many MyNHPCO communities as you wish.

I hope you will take advantage of this extremely valuable NHPCO member benefit. Connecting with peers who understand your profession and are eager to share and develop ideas together is priceless. Together we are building a stronger hospice and palliative care community! Join the conversation today.

Amanda M. Bow
Director, Communications, NHPCO