Palliative Care Marketing:
More than “NOT hospice”

A distinct brand for palliative care

When MC Anderson changed the name of their program from “Palliative Care” to “Supportive Care” they experienced:


41% increase in referrals
30% decrease in time to referral

Avoid confusion with hospice
In a Transcend Marketing focus group of physicians, the majority of doctors were confused about the difference between hospice and palliative care.

Clarify the differences with visuals
The message, the service and the eligibility requirements are so very different between hospice and palliative care. Remove the associated stigma of hospice and give your palliative care program the attention it deserves with its own branding and website.

Describe your program without comparing to hospice
Based on research by the Center to Advance Palliative Care we recommend the following elements in a description of your palliative care program:

  • “Serious illness”. According to a 2011 national public opinion poll, the term “serious illness” is favorably received and seems to correlate to a layperson’s description of a family member’s last 18 months—the ideal timeframe for palliative services.
  • “Symptoms, pain and stress”. The point here is to describe relief for emotional and physical distress, while also clarifying for providers that your team has expertise and a focus separate from addressing the medical aspects of the condition.
  • “Quality of life for both the patient and family”. Hospice could make the same claim. But emphasizing the patient and family as the unit of care helps get the attention of family members (key decision-makers) even if they aren’t quite sure yet what “palliative” means.
  • “…work with the patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support”. By taking a secondary place and defining palliative care as an “extra layer of support,” families—and referring doctors—can be reassured that the existing physicians are still the primary providers. Your team is serving more of a consulting role.
  • “…any age and any stage of a serious illness”. Without saying “you don’t have to be terminal,” this wording clarifies that important distinction. No need for the 6-month certification. Furthermore, the “any age” component helps overcome resistance that younger people with serious conditions may experience if they equate palliation solely with the elderly.

 

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