Morrison says that although he is pleased that the Joint Commission has offered this certification and is pleased that his hospital was one of the first five selected, he doesn't think it should be voluntary but, instead, it should be "a key component of hospital accreditation," a necessary ingredient for federal reimbursement.
"You can't call yourself a hospital in the United States without an intensive care unit ...or unless you have an emergency department. I don't think you should be able to call yourself a hospital in this country unless you have a palliative care team."
Eickemeyer says that may come in time, but that this is a first step. Also, he says, some years down the line advanced certification may also mean hospitals will be expected to measure and improve on certain quality metrics associated with palliative care.
Most of all, by calling attention to the need for palliative care services with an certification program, Eickemeyer says The Joint Commission "hopes to attract resources and attention that might not otherwise materialize" for this area of healthcare.
About 20 other hospitals are moving through the application process and, within a year or two, he expects as many as 40 or 50 hospitals will earn advanced certification in palliative care.