Over time, palliative care programs have grown markedly, with the number of palliative care programs in U.S. hospitals showing "a rapidly rising trend," says the Center to Advance Palliative Care. According to its most recent data analysis in 2011, 1,568, or 63%, of U.S. hospitals with more than 50 beds have a palliative care program—an increase of 138.3% between 2000 to 2009, according to the Center to Advance Palliative Care's most recent survey.
Even though more hospitals are developing such programs, the need may be greater in the years ahead, considering the growth of the U.S. aging population, Stuart says.
By 2030, the number of people in this country over the age 85 is expected to double to 8.5 million.
"The pace of progress for palliative care was definitely glacial; it was worse than glacial," Stuart says of the beginning of the movement. "But we've hit one of those tipping points and things have really taken off in the past year or two, the most that I've seen in the 20 years. "I've never seen in my lifetime this much enthusiasm [and] supporting innovation for this."
Despite the advances in palliative care and related programs, the government has been slow in widespread reimbursements for such care, Stuart says.