Improving patient outcomes through palliative care integration in other specialised health services: what we have learned so far and how can we improve?
Palliative care has been increasingly shown to improve patient outcomes, in particular symptom management, quality of life and patient and family satisfaction. This has been shown within the care of people with cancer, neurological disease and heart failure but the methods by which palliative care is introduced earlier in the diagnosis is still complex. There are different models of increasing integration—care solely by the specialist, referral to other professionals or members of the team as necessary or an integrated model where palliative care interventions occur early in the disease progression. The evidence for the effectiveness of early involvement is being developed. The challenge for the future is increasing the awareness of professionals, patients and families that palliative care may be helpful and may improve the quality of life, and maybe the survival, of patients. The complex team interactions need to be acknowledged and all professionals involved to be focussed on improving the outcome for the patient and family.