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Scaling access to palliative care by partnering with risk-bearing entities

Liz Fowler, president and CEO at Bluegrass Care Navigators (BCN), is committed to putting BCN on an inexorable path to ensuring all Kentuckians have access to high-quality palliative care. Scaling access to palliative care in Kentucky is a formidable goal, given the large number of seriously ill Kentuckians and extensive rural geography. Improving serious illness care is a goal that requires innovation, creativity, fortitude, and collaboration.

Palliative care teams, through expert pain and symptom management, skilled conversations that align a seriously ill persons medical care with their goals, and 24/7 support can improve quality of life and diminish non-beneficial utilization of health care services for individuals living with serious illness. Indeed, numerous research articles corroborate that palliative care significantly reduces pain and bothersome symptoms and improves quality of life. While scaling access to critically needed palliative care services in Kentucky and across the United States has been limited by a predominately fee-for-service reimbursement environment, Liz sees the growth in managed care and transition to value-based payment arrangements as an indispensable component to increasing access to palliative care. Delivery system and payment reform efforts that reward value over volume create clinical and financial alignment to invest in the right care for seriously ill adults. Currently, BCN is actively seeking collaborative opportunities with health care entities bearing financing risk (Medicare Advantage plans, Medicaid Managed Care companies, Accountable Care Organizations) and other health care providers to partner and improve the lived experience of the seriously ill.

BCN was early an adopter of palliative care and is currently celebrating 20 years of providing palliative care services. BCN provides palliative care in hospitals, homes, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and medical offices. This year BCN expanded palliative care services to rural parts of southeastern Kentucky and redeployed a pediatric palliative care program. In addition to providing hospice and palliative care services, BCN provides home-based primary care, transitional care, adult day health care, extra care private duty services, and grief care across Kentucky. 

About Liz Fowler

Liz Fowler is the president and CEO of Bluegrass Care Navigators, a Kentucky-based provider of hospice, palliative medicine, transitional care, case management, private duty, adult day health, home primary care and counseling services.

She has more than 30 years of experience bringing leadership and innovation to health care and nonprofit organizations in Kentucky, Florida and California.  As a recognized leader in hospice and palliative care, Liz is an active member of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s Board of Directors, president of the Kentucky Association of Hospice and Palliative Care, a faculty member for the Center to Advance Palliative Care’s  Palliative Care Leadership Center (PCLC), an advisory committee member for the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, and member of the editorial board for Medical News. She received her Master of Public Health degree from the UCLA and a Bachelor of Science degree and a Certificate in Gerontology from Syracuse University.

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