Our expert answers 3 Questions
Palliative care is a new field that aims to improve the care of people with serious illness. My aim is to understand the barriers to good palliative care and test novel methods for delivering that care. I think about ways to make better use of existing resources for palliative care, so as to improve access without increasing costs.
As medicine becomes more skilled at prolonging life, people are living with serious illness for longer periods of time. These people can experience tremendous suffering related to poorly controlled symptoms, loss of function, and fear of the unknown. I believe that treating suffering is a core mission of good health care, and that is the reason why I have chosen to work in this area as a researcher and clinician. As Hippocrates once said, “Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.”
Palliative care can improve quality of life, emotional well being and survival without increasing the costs of health care. Indeed, research has shown that palliative care can help patients make thoughtful decisions about their care and avoid unnecessary, burdensome and costly therapies. The challenge is how to get people the amount of care that is "just right."