2012 Report Annual Assembly of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine

April 2012

The Annual Assembly of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and the American Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (AHPNA) was held in Denver, Colorado, from March 7-10. Jeannette Koijane, our executive director asked me to share my impressions.

If I had to summarize in a single line, I would use the title of Ira Byock’s new book ”The Best Care Possible.”

It says it all.  As the hospice and palliative care community, we have long been the pioneers of improving the life, medical and societal care of people affected by advanced stages of illness. In doing so, we embrace the basic, but often forgotten mission of medicine; caring for individuals and communities, and not just their diseases.

If you are reading this, you know that already. So why am I writing about it?

Because health care is at a tipping point and cannot move forward without successfully and widely integrating the lessons of palliative care.  The focus of health care improvement has to be the experience of the end user, that is the patient and family.  As Diane Meier, one of the undisputed leaders and visionaries of our field reminded us, this uncompromising focus on the end user is what made Steve Jobs and his products the ultimate success story of our time.

Just think about it. “The Best Care Possible”.  Such a simple message. It transcends the stumbling stones of politics, legal debates, and payment systems.

Improving the experience of patients and families is what hospice and palliative care professionals have been doing for decades. We need to seize the moment and get our message out. Ours is a successful model of providing medical care that is patient and family centered, high quality, coordinated, yet less costly.

Our initiatives improving palliative care integration into the health systems of Hawai‘i are getting national attention. Anna Loengard, the CMO of St. Francis HealthCare System presented our work at the Assembly. She talked about creating an insurance benefit allowing simultaneous curative treatment and supportive care, commonly referred to as “concurrent care. ” HMSA’s Quality Incentives for advance care planning and palliative care was also discussed. What follows bellow is a closing comment by the moderator, Diane Meier.
“ Everybody, take notice, because the future is here. Hawai‘i is doing what the rest of the country will be doing in 5 years.”

I could hardly imagine greater validation of our work. Kōkua Mau is on the cutting edge. Our focus is right on target. We hope that you will consider joining us and that you will take an active role in our projects.  Kōkua Mau’s goal to ensure that the people of Hawai‘i have universal access to the best care possible requires active participation of our members, old and new. Several active workgroups are looking for new members. We are crafting new projects.  Our monthly meetings are open to all. Hope to see you there.


Emese Somogyi, MD, FAAHPM
Board President, Kōkua Mau