Taking the Palliative Care Approach


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Target Audience

Healthcare providers.


The healthcare industry in America is so focused on pathology, surgery and pharmacology -- on what doctors "do" to patients -- that it often overlooks the values of the human beings it's supposed to care for. Palliative care physician Timothy Ihrig explains the benefits of a different approach, one that fosters a patient's overall quality of life and navigates serious illness from diagnosis to death with dignity and compassion.

Palliative medicine is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness -- whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient's other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.
A paradigm of care for this population, grounded in what they value. Patient-centric care based on their values that helps this population live better and longer. It's a care model that tells the truth and engages one-on-one and meets people where they're at.
Palliative Medicine: A different voice in healthcare so patients can find their own.™ 

    Learning Objectives

    • Discuss the tenets of true palliative care, hospice, and their relationship to increased quality of life and length of life.
    • Converse regarding goals of care with seriously ill patients.
    • Describe why success is predicated on as much a philosophical approach and understanding of what is possible through palliative care as high level clinical acumen. 

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    Date of original release: March 7, 2018
    Most recent review/update: March 7, 2018
    Termination date: March 6, 2021

    Course summary
    Available credit: 
    • 1.00 CE Contact Hour(s)
    Course opens: 
    Course expires: 
    United States

    Version 2Dr. Timothy G. Ihrig is the Chief Medical Officer of Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care and Clarus Healthcare Systems.  He also acts as a private consultant through his role as Chief Executive Officer of Ihrig MD & Associates. 

    Dr. Ihrig is internationally recognized for combining clinical and administrative experience to system design around population health management, care coordination and care delivery for the most vulnerable population.  He is an expert in understanding risk as applied to healthcare contractual entities, micro- and macro- healthcare economics, population health, regulatory compliance from a system perspective and the interaction of all three.  He combines a visionary approach to care delivery through a unique philosophical perspective modeled into methodology which can be strategically implemented into any healthcare system to meet the needs of patients, systems and payers. This has led to unparalleled success in across-the-continuum population health and community based palliative care and hospice program development and innovation.


    • Created, de novo, one of the most successful population health care models in the country and executed clinically and operationally in this healthcare space across all settings.
    • Successfully reproduced care model with similar results across variable settings and systems.
    • Near 94% zero hospital admissions for live outpatient palliative care patients.
    • 40% reduction in 30-day readmissions.
    • 70% per-capita reduction in expenditures estimated on pre- and post- palliative care involvement over comparative 12 month periods.
    • Decrease in acute hospitalization days from above 4 to 1.79 with Palliative Care involvement; and persistent coordination of care through our Cancer Center, Emergency Department and EMS services.
    • An inpatient Palliative Care consultation rate of nearly 28%, greater than three times the national average.
    • Consistently rated at the top of “patient satisfaction” and “likely to recommend to others” via Press Ganey throughout the Unity Point Health System – 2013 overall patient satisfaction mean score of 95 compared to 85 for overall system.
    • Decreased symptom burden, per patient subjective response.
    • Ubiquitous discussion and near similar attainment of advanced care planning and/or completion of Iowa Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment [IPOLST].

    Prior to joining Crossroads & Clarus, he served as the  medical director for Palliative Medicine at the Trinity Regional Medical Center (TRMC) within the Unity Point Health System.  He also served on the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Development Board of Mangers of Unity Point Health.  His efforts were seminal in Unity Point Heath being granted the 2013 Circle of Life Award by the American Hospital Association.

    Dr. Ihrig has given a TED talk which has over 1.2 million views globally, and National Public Radio’s, “All Things Considered” featured him in a story on the development and transformative nature of his philosophy of care. He has lectured all over the country and is endorsed by the Center to Advance of Palliative Care (CAPC).  In addition, he has co-authored, Palliative Care: Symptom Management.

    Current appointments include, content expert to the Accountable Care Learning Collaborative (ACLC), consultant to CAPC, and ongoing healthcare research activities with Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science and the Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy.

    He served as an Expert Source for Palliative Care Development in an Accountable Care Organization in a Rural Community for the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., and was the sole practicing physician assisting the Iowa General Assembly in raising minimum standard requirements for Iowa physicians with respect to end-of-life care and oversight of use of prescriptive narcotics.  He also acted as an expert clinician in support of Iowa Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment bill.  He is a prior Clinical Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Iowa Carver School of Medicine and acted as Palliative Care clinical instructor.  He served on the board of the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Iowa for six years and is the former chair of the Advocacy Committee and the Palliative Care Advisory Committee.

    Dr. Ihrig attained a degree in medicine from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine and a Masters degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  He completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Iowa, Des Moines and a fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

    Other interests of Dr. Ihrig include sexuality at the end of life and Global Health.  He is the former Medical Chair of the Health Services Committee for Empower Tanzania Incorporated whose mission is the development of sustainable healthcare solutions in sub-Saharan Africa for individuals suffering with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-limited illnesses.  

    Relevant to the content of this CME activity, Dr. Ihrig indicated he has no financial relationships to disclose.

    Available Credit

    • 1.00 CE Contact Hour(s)


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