Under Stuart's leadership, Sutter has been demonstrating success in its palliative care program for years.
From 2009 to 2011, Sutter reported a 54% reduction in hospital admissions and readmissions, an 80% reduction in intensive care unit days, and a 26% reduction in hospital lengths of stay. There were reduced visits to physician offices and clinics, too, Stuart says.
Sutter received $13 million from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Innovation Center under a three-year grant for advanced illness management for patients with late stage chronic illness. The money came after Sutter's Sacramento region showed positive outcomes from its AIM program, such as reduced hospitalizations and improved care transitions
"In our program we deal with patients who are as sick as they possibly can be," Stuart says. "They can't be sicker than this, yet we've reduced hospitalizations. We are enabling people to stay at home, where they can be comfortable and nonstressed. This is advanced care: helping people live the best they can and stay out of the hospital."
Through palliative and advanced care planning programs, patient care is often focused on pain, symptoms, and the stress of serious illness, or even spiritual assistance, if wanted. One of the major hallmarks of advanced care is that it is not seen as a failure when patients say they have grown tired of treatments and want comfort for their chronic illness as they see the end of life near.