Serious Illness Strategies for Health Plans and Accountable Care Organizations

May 2017

This resource describes strategies that health care organizations and plans can use to provide care for patients with serious illness.


  • Palliative care — specialized care that focuses on addressing the pain, symptoms, and stresses of serious illness — improves quality, improves satisfaction, and reduces spending when delivered concurrently with treatment.
  • Studies consistently show improvements in quality and cost once palliative care is introduced. Health care costs are reduced by decreasing the need for 911 calls, ED visits, hospitalizations, and intensive care.
  • The Center to Advance Palliative Care has developed a Serious Illness Framework consisting of six strategies: proactive identification of appropriate patients; working with patients and families to identify goals and gaps; addressing physical and psychosocial needs; equipping the provider network to deliver palliative care; providing appropriate payment and incentives; and conducting measurement and evaluation to ensure programs are producing the desired outcomes.
  • For each of these strategies, this resource reviews key best practices.
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Level of Evidence
Expert Opinion
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