Under the Aspens: Palliative Innovation


Palliative care isn’t something people often think about until they need it. It interrupts our health care system’s nagging ask of “what’s the matter with you?” with a more holistic ask, “what matters to you?” It puts quality of life first for those with serious illness, and supports their individual values, goals and preferences. Palliative care isn’t only about the dying, and COVID-19 only amps up the urgency for us to break down that stigma. Quarantined patients face an uphill battle against the cultural shyness  around this type of care, and the lack of dialogue means personal, human decisions are left to medical staff. 

For this year’s TRAILS Competition, Cambia Grove is looking  for innovators who can give agency back to the patient and normalize the palliative conversation for families and providers. During Under the Aspens that took place June 23, Peggy Maguire from Cambia Health Solutions and the Cambia Health Foundation shared where innovation is most needed in the palliative space. Takeaways from the conversation included a strong need for communication and education surrounding palliative care as well as:

  • Palliative care solutions aren't just a call for another telehealth solution, it's more nuanced.
  • Aligning payment models and the price of care would put the patient, family and caregivers in the driver seat.
  • Innovators must look at the data really closely and look at health disparities and the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on communities of color. We need to reduce disparities and improve patient experience and make sure that the resources that are being developed are culturally competent and specific.

Through the Cambia Health Foundation’s work, Maguire has disbursed grants to those advancing leadership, quality, and access in the space. Palliative care is a deeply empathetical and nuanced field that calls for the communication patience to understand a person’s most intrinsic beliefs. When combined with technology, Maguire believes there’s a great opportunity for enabling communicative empathy with the convenience of digital. 

Cambia Grove’s last TRAILS Competition focused on clinician burnout. Several finalist solutions focused on the care coordination of hospitals and health systems that had the potential to result in the accurate and efficient use of data to improve clinic workflow, enhance patient engagement and to reduce clinician burnout. That’s one area Maguire names as a growth opportunity for innovators; better communication between multiple teams and better communication between a provider and their patient. This year’s TRAILS Competition launches in the fall to aligns Cambia Grove’s community of innovators with the growing palliative care space and will seek solutions that improve care of seriously ill people and their families. We look forward to the work ahead.