Bupa: health insurers have role to play in palliative care

Health insurer Bupa has used National Palliative Care Week to encourage innovation and partnerships across the health sector, to help give choice and information to people facing palliative care.

Donna Shotton, Bupa Health Partnerships and Innovation Program Development Manager, said Australian research tells us only 14 per cent of people who reported that they wanted to die at home actually did so.

“Dying is part of life. Palliative care and how people want to die is still quite a taboo topic, but it’s an important part of healthcare and health insurers have a role to play in encouraging end of life care conversations,” Ms Shotton said.

“One of the main selling points of private health insurance is choice. We promote choice of obstetrician for childbirth and choice of surgeon for knee or heart operations; we need to also ensure people have choice of where care is delivered as someone approaches the final stages of life.”

In 2016 Bupa partnered with St Vincent’s Private Hospital Brisbane to trial the Bupa Palliative Care Choices Program. The program saw Bupa fund access to a range of in-home health services, including specialist palliative care and nursing services at home and 24-hour telephone support services.

The results of the two-year trial saw 93% of all program participants die in their preferred place of death (hospital or home). Furthermore, 37% of all program participants who died, were supported to die at home as that was their wish. The care was also delivered at a lower average cost per customer compared with the 12-months prior to the program trial.

“This program demonstrates how we can empower patients to have choice, improve quality of care, deliver high satisfaction from patients and families, and do so in a way that supports sustainable health care costs,” Ms Shotton said.

“We also learned that the main supports that help people to stay at home and out of hospital are the nurse and doctor visits that can happen whenever needed, as well as the nursing support workers who can stay overnight. This intense support has helped families to manage, care for and keep their loved one at home, if that has been their wish.”

Following the success of the initial pilot, the program will continue to be delivered at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Brisbane and has now been expanded to include a partnership with Calvary North Adelaide Hospital in South Australia.

Bupa is also exploring options to expand the program in both NSW and Victoria in the near future.

Read the latest media releases and statements from Bupa