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New Effort to Improve Advanced Illness Care Across America

Arizona Project First Step in Nationwide Initiative

TUCSON, AZ — A new collaborative in Arizona, led by The Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC), is the first phase of a national initiative that will measure advanced care quality in every state and create a roadmap for improvement. C-TAC strives to ensure that people with advanced illness receive the care they want, when and where they want it.

Arizona is leading the way on improving the care provided for people with advanced illness. The Tucson-based David and Lura Lovell Foundation is supporting a one-year commitment as part of a three-year program to change and improve advanced illness care. This is part of a larger initiative, the Arizona End of Life Care Partnership, funded by the Lovell Foundation and Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. C-TAC will work with the Arizona End-of-Life Care Partnership and the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) to determine the changes in advanced care needed to improve outcomes for those with serious illnesses.

The data that drives the discovery is the Advanced Care Transformation IndexSM, a tool developed by C-TAC that examines 37 measures to assess the quality of advanced care in the United States. C-TAC is now creating a state-level ACT IndexSM, evaluating each state using thoroughly-vetted performance measures and providing a baseline that can be used to track growth. The three groups will create a best practices guide, based on their discussions and strategies that have proven to be effective in Arizona and other states.

“To improve advanced care, we need to monitor our progress and drive change. The new state-level Advanced Care Transformation IndexSM will be able to show our progress as models of care are implemented in Arizona,” says C-TAC strategic advisor Lou Gagliano. “We look forward to working with our partners and leveraging the ground-breaking investment by the Lovell Foundation in the state to generate evidence-based best practices that meet the needs of Arizonans with advanced illness.”

More than 17 percent of Arizonans are older than 65, a figure that will soon approach 20 percent. As the population ages, older adults are likely to face advanced illnesses, which occur when one or more chronic conditions progress to the point where general health and functioning declines and response to treatment is reduced. This presents unique care needs—from medical services to spiritual support—that are not being met under the current healthcare system.

Seven in 10 Americans would prefer to die at home, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Despite this, C-TAC data shows that only 29.4 percent of deaths occur in the home. C-TAC has found that in Utah, for example, people have exceptional care during advanced illness and end-of-life, wherein 54.2 percent of deaths happen at home.

“We are honored to work alongside these innovative organizations to improve  the care given during critical times in patients’ lives when they are frail or nearing end-of-life,” says AzHHA President and Chief Executive Officer Ann-Marie Alameddin. “AzHHA is proud to lead and develop best practices for end-of-life care in Arizona so that patient wishes are known and honored by family members and at every part of the healthcare continuum for a patient.”

“Putting people and patients first is a key value of our Partnership,” explains Sarah Ascher, Senior Director of the End of Life Care Partnership. “This project will enable us to learn more about the experiences of those with advanced illness and promote person-centered care across the state. We are honored to be part of this exciting and collaborative initiative.” 

“The Lovell Foundation has supported the integration of physical, mental and spiritual care in medical treatment for decades,” says Lovell Foundation President Ann Lovell. “This aligns closely with C-TAC’s mission and we are proud to collaborate with them to improve advanced care in Arizona.”

National healthcare leaders gathered for a roundtable discussion on April 16, National Healthcare Decisions Day, to discuss the current landscape for advanced illness care and Arizona’s performance in C-TAC’s state-level index. C-TAC provided a national perspective on changes and trends that are important to the care pattern for this portion of our population.

The event, held at the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, was a critical step toward convening leaders and influencers who can drive positive change for people with advanced illness in Arizona.

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