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AAHPM Summer Quarterly 2012 : Page 5

SUMMER 2012 5 clearly benefit from the specialists’ knowledge, skill, and support. In the acute hospital setting, most patients are much more interested in survival than end-of-life care, and if the latter is on our shingle, we may not even get in the door. Hospice embraces helping patients “live as well as they can for as long as they can,” but most programs are not afraid to use the “D” word in their materials. Although most patients who are admitted to hospice and their fami-lies rate the experience extremely positively, the transition for many can be psychologically difficult at first. Those who are admitted to hospice programs are generally very satisfied with the services and care that are provided. Hos-pice is one of the most comprehensive, high-quality home care programs in the country. However, in 2010 only 42% of patients who died in this country were enrolled, the median length of stay was 19 days, and 35% of patients lived 1 week or less after referral. Our culture tends to be ambivalent about explicit considerations of death, which was reflected in the “death panel” debacle when Congress considered compensating physicians for assisting patients and families with advance care planning. Despite all this, hospice has been enormously successful with high favor-ability ratings. BRANDING TASK FORCE It is not uncommon for an organization to revisit its brand identity every 10-15 years to assess whether its name, logo, and messaging still align with its mission, values, and envisioned future as defined by the organization and its stakeholders. The Academy previously underwent similar processes in 1988 and 1996. This time, AAHPM has included members from a diverse cross-section of practice settings and leadership experience within the Academy. This task force will not be the decision maker regarding rebranding (that decision will be made by the board), but its members will work closely with senior staff members and public relations consultants to ensure members’ attitudes and perspectives are collected and shared. The Branding Task Force has the following charges: đ gather data, attitudes, and perceptions from members đ assess the climate for exploring the need, desire, and implication associated with rebranding AAHPM đ make a recommendation to the board regarding possible options and next steps. Branding Task Force Members Implications of a Name Change What does all of this mean in terms of what we call our individual programs and AAHPM? Each of our local programs will need to make a strategic decision on the short-and long-term tradeoffs of using end-of-life or hospice language in their names, mission statements, and advertising materials. The markers of success, for which-ever strategy we choose, will be (a) better palliation for all seriously ill patients and their families, (b) increased referrals to palliative care earlier in the disease trajectory, (c) increased hospice referrals, and (d) better care and support for more patients at the end of life. Many audiences have an interest in the outcome of this conversation. Most of us will first consider how name changes at different levels would affect our own programs and the Academy in the short and long run. Although these considerations are important, for me the more criti-cal question in the long run is how will we ensure that a larger percentage of seriously ill patients is able to access the services our field provides? There are many important audiences: our patients and their families, our colleagues and organizations, and our policymakers and healthcare reformers. The stakes are high for us to think this through carefully before deciding whether to move forward. Amos Bailey, MD FAAHPM, co-chair J. Cameron Muir, MD FAAHPM, co-chair Kathryn Borgenicht, MD Sydney Dy, MD Tara Friedman, MD FAAHPM Tim Holder, MD FAAFP Russell K. Portenoy, MD Skip Radwany, MD FAAHPM Greg Sachs, MD Charles Wellman, MD FAAHPM David Wensel, DO After careful consideration, the AAHPM Board of Directors empowered a task force to explore whether we should explicitly consider changing our branding (see sidebar). The task force will collect data and deliberate over the next several months and then present its findings to the board. The board will have the final responsibility to decide whether this process moves forward or stops here. I hope and expect that this will be a time of reflec-tion and thoughtful discussion within the Academy as we determine whether a name change would aid our strategic plan by expanding our reach in the care of seriously ill patients and their families. VOL. 13

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