Top trending terms in advanced illness and end-of-life

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John Halsey, Turn-Key Health
John Halsey, Turn-Key Health


As the healthcare industry and skilled nursing providers brace themselves for the growing population of seriously ill patients entering the healthcare system, many of us are having more discussions than ever about how to treat this fragile population, especially in terms of addressing end-of-life care.

We've developed a lexicon of healthcare buzzwords designed to help healthcare professionals and others so that everybody is on the same page, and speaking the same language.

Advance Care Planning (ACP)

Making decisions about the care you would want to receive if you become unable to speak for yourself. Provides direction to healthcare professionals, family and friends regarding care and treatment preferences. Advance care planning is applicable to all adults at all stages of life.

Advance Directives 

Also known as Living Wills, Advanced Directives are legal documents that allow you to spell out your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time, including the use of dialysis and breathing machines, if you want to be resuscitated, if your breathing or heartbeat stops, tube feeding, and organ or tissue donation. Specifies which actions should be taken when the individual can no longer make decisions for themselves based on illness or incapacity.

Advanced Illness Management (AIM) 

Advanced Illness is defined as “occurring when one or more conditions become serious enough that general health and functioning decline, and treatments begin to lose their impact. This is a process that continues to the end of life.” The goals of AIM are to improve patient and family satisfaction, increase quality of care, reduce inefficiencies and increase care coordination. 

Care Transition

The process of a patient moving from one healthcare provider/setting to another. For example, when a patient is discharged from a hospital to a rehabilitation facility.

Chronic Care Management (CCM) CPT 99490

Chronic Care Management (CCM) is defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as the non-face-to-face services provided to Medicare beneficiaries who have multiple (two or more), significant chronic conditions. In addition to office visits and other face-to-face encounters (billed separately), these services include communication with the patient and other treating health professionals for care coordination (both electronically and by phone), medication management, and being accessible 24 hours a day to patients and any care providers (physicians or other clinical staff).

Chronic care management services include at least 20 minutes of clinical staff time directed by a physician or other qualified health care professional, per calendar month, with the following required elements:

Multiple (two or more) chronic conditions expected to last at least 12 months, or until the death of the patient

Chronic conditions place the patient at significant risk of death, acute exacerbation/decompensation, or functional decline. A comprehensive care plan should be established, implemented, revised, or monitored

Community-Based Palliative Care

The various care models designed to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients with advanced illnesses and their families, outside of a hospital setting.

Complex Care Management

A set of activities designed to more effectively assist patients and their caregivers in managing medical conditions and co-occurring psycho-social factors.

Coordinated Care

Coordinated care, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, is the deliberate organization of patient care activities between two or more participants (including patient) involved in a patient's care to facilitate the appropriate delivery of healthcare services.

Extensivist Medicine

Extensivist Medicine is a relatively new area of medicine that focuses on high risk patient care. An Extensivist Physician is a primary care physician - either an Internal Medicine or Family Medicine physician, who provides comprehensive and coordinated care to patients with multiple complex medical issues.

Fifth Vital Sign

The fifth vital sign is the assessment of pain. The four vital signs are blood pressure, body temperature, breathing rate, and pulse. In some care settings, the pain management scale may be used as a ‘fifth' vital sign, thus leading to prescription of opioids based on pain symptoms.

Pain is measured on a pain scale based on subjective patient reporting and may be unreliable. Some studies show that recording pain routinely may not change management.

Healthcare Ecosystem

The healthcare system is now better understood as an ecosystem of interconnected stakeholders, each charged with a mission to improve the quality of care while lowering its cost. To ensure patient safety and quality care while realizing savings, these stakeholders are building new relationships — often outside the four walls of the hospital. These relationships include: provider-payer relationship, provider-pharmacist collaboration, medical device manufacturers-clinician communication, employer/payer relationship, and the consumer relationship across all stakeholders.

Inappropriate Death

The result of care that did not benefit the patient as a whole.


A board-certified physician who provides special care for critically ill patients. Also known as a critical care physician, the Intensivist has advanced training and experience in treating this complex type of patient.

Life Limiting Condition

Illness that leads to death as a direct consequence. Such illnesses may include, but are not limited to, cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia, heart failure, neurodegenerative disease, and chronic liver disease.

Non-beneficial Treatment

Overtreatment of patients with advanced illnesses, as described in the terms Over-medicalized Care, Over-medicalized Death, and Inappropriate Death. It is broadly defined as any treatment, procedure or test administered to patients who are naturally dying that will not make a difference to their survival, will probably impair their remaining quality of life, can potentially cause them pain or prolonged suffering, or leave them in a worse state of health than they were.

Not Taken Under Care (NTUC)

"Not Taken Under Care" is a hospice term, according to, to describe those people who were referred to hospice, but have not been taken under care by the hospice team because they do not meet the criteria as defined by CMS.  This includes an MD and the hospice MD certification that the person is terminally ill (expected to live 6 months or less), the person does not forego curative treatment (acceptance of palliative care (for comfort) instead of care to cure the illness) or does not sign an agreement choosing hospice care instead of other Medicare-covered treatments for the terminal illness. 

Over-medicalized Care

Unnecessary or unwanted interventions that prolong life but diminish patient/caregiver satisfaction with care, such as more days spent in ICU.

Over-medicalized Death

Over-medicalized care leads to over-medicalized death which involves, for example, chemotherapy for cancer patients within 14 days of death, unplanned hospitalization within 30 days of death and life-sustaining treatment within 30 days of death.

Palliative Care

Specialized care for members with advanced illness that provides relief from symptoms and stress, medication management, offers care coordination and other support that may have gone missing from traditional models.  The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Palliative Extensivist™ (PE™)

Specially trained nurses, social workers and other clinicians who provide palliative care and care coordination services for seriously ill people outside the hospital and in the home or other setting. These community-based, specially trained professionals are experts at leading sensitive discussions with patients and families regarding goals of treatment.  

Palliative Illness Management™ (PIM™)

New, innovative model offers sophisticated predictive analytics to identify at-risk health plan members who will benefit from an additional layer of in-home, psycho-social support provided by a specialized palliative care program. To engage with these patients and their family caregivers, PIM™ deploys community-based palliative care teams led by Palliative Extensivists™ (PEs), including local, specially trained nurses and clinical social workers.  

Population Health

Population health is defined as the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group. These groups are often geographic populations such as nations or communities, but can also be other groups such as employees, ethnic groups, disabled persons, prisoners, or any other defined group. 


Pre-hospice typically refers to those people who are seriously ill and may not yet qualify for hospice services or are not ready for hospice. There are services which are sometimes billable to health plans, including evaluation, consultation and education, and support services.  Service levels are usually less intensive than those associated with end-of-life care, and do not apply to the hospice benefit limit.  When compared to hospice care, patients in a pre-hospice program can continue to get curative care and are not required to have a prognosis of six months or less to live.

John Halsey is the Vice President, Business Development at Turn-Key Health.

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