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Blue Shield’s Palliative Care Program Wins National Recognition for Improving Lives

Home-based palliative care shows trends toward increased length of life and reduced hospital visits.

This story is also available in Spanish.


Blue Shield’s Palliative Care Group, which has provided care for more than 4,800 members of Blue Shield of California and Blue Shield Promise health plans since 2018, has earned national recognition from the healthcare industry for its home-based palliative care work and the specialized skills of its clinicians.

During the first quarter of this year, the Journal of Palliative Medicine published results of a study entitled “Cost and Utilization Implications of a Health Plan’s Home-Based Palliative Care Program” from leaders at Blue Shield and researchers from West Health Research Institute that garnered attention from industry publications. Also, The Center to Advance Palliative Care’s third annual John A. Hartford Foundation Tipping Point Challenge announced that Blue Shield of California made the national Honor Roll in the Clinical Training category.

Palliative care study

Major findings from the study were that home-based palliative care delivered to people not yet eligible for hospice reduced their hospital and emergency room use, showed trends towards an increased length of life, and extended the continuum of care for people with serious illness and their caregivers.

“Most people would rather have their symptoms and treatment controlled at home without needing to go to the emergency department or hospital. This study showed that when we can identify and treat symptoms early through home-based palliative care, these medical trips were reduced,” said Jenelle Hallock, senior manager, Palliative Care program and project management at Blue Shield, who participated in the study. Other participants from Blue Shield Promise were Kim Bower, M.D., and Xiaoli Li, principal, Medi-Cal Strategic Planning and Performance.

“Home-based palliative care is a powerful tool to improve the care of seriously ill members who struggle to have their healthcare needs met in the doctor’s office,” added Hallock. “We can support pain, symptom and medication management; help develop care and shared decision-making plans; provide psychosocial support for mental, emotional, social and spiritual well-being; and offer 24/7 access as well as caregiver support.”

According to Hallock, home-based palliative care is not always long term: 43% of participating members have met their health goals and returned to regular care from their standard providers.

National Honor Roll for Clinical Training

The Center to Advance Palliative Care’s national Clinical Training competition goal is to help healthcare organizations increase the specialized skills of their clinicians, which then improves the quality of patient care for those living with a serious illness. Over the past year at Blue Shield of California and Blue Shield Promise, palliative care and non-palliative care clinicians have taken hundreds of courses to enhance skills in communication, pain management, opioid prescribing, symptom management, dementia care and more, earning them a place on the organization’s Honor Roll.

For more on Blue Shield of California's palliative care offerings, visit our website.