Rolled out in conjunction with National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, the newest feature of the VITAS mobile app is designed for patients with advanced illness. The first in-app opioid converter, free to all healthcare providers, analyzes patients’ personalized health information, combining it with the therapeutic needs of hospice patients to identify optimal opioid options, delivery methods and dose titration. Additionally, healthcare professionals caring for patients eligible for hospice and palliative care can use the tool to prescribe opioids, manage pain effectively and respect the unique needs of patients nearing the end of life.
“Pain management for hospice patients can be a complex practice that differs greatly from the treatment of other populations,” said Dr. Joseph Shega, executive vice president and chief medical officer for VITAS. “We consider a variety of non-pharmacological and pharmacological options to help alleviate pain with minimal side effects and give patients the comfort and quality of life they deserve.”
The company says the opioid converter is based on clinical evidence, published clinical studies and best practices from over 40 years of VITAS experience. The tool provides real-world evidence to ensure opioids are used safely while mitigating the risks of inconsistent practices and protocols among providers, according to the company.
“We’ve made our opioid conversion tool available at no cost to all healthcare professionals because we are committed to sharing best practices and elevating the standard of care for all patients as they approach the end of life,” said Dr. Shega. “The tool is intuitive, efficient, secure and updated on an ongoing basis to provide the latest information on guidelines and changes in medication status.”
Established in 1978, VITAS Healthcare is a network of healthcare professionals who care for patients with advanced illness, primarily in the patients’ homes, and also in the company’s 28 inpatient hospice units — as well as in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Headquartered in Miami, Florida, the company was founded by Don Gaetz, who later sold the hospice firm in 2004 before launching his political career.
According to a press release, the tool is available to all health care prescribers at no cost.