Accountable Care Organization (ACO)

Accountable Care Organizations are groups of doctors, hospitals or other health care providers that come together voluntarily to give coordinated high-quality care to their Medicare patients. The goal of such coordinated care is to ensure that patients, especially the chronically ill, get high-quality care while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors. When an ACO succeeds in both delivering high-quality care and reducing health care expenditures, it shares in the savings it achieves for the Medicare program.


Hospice provides palliative care for terminally ill patients who are no longer seeking curative or life-prolonging treatments and whose life expectancy is six months or less. Hospice is covered by the Medicare hospice benefit and by other payers. It can be delivered at home or in a nursing home, hospital or stand-alone facility.

Hospital Categories

For-profit: Run by individuals, partnerships or corporations

Nonprofit: Run by a charitable organization (including church-operated ones)

Public: Nonprofit institutions run by a state, county, city, district or other government authority

Sole community provider (SCP): Hospitals that receive SCP designation by Medicare because they are located more than thirty-five miles from other hospitals, or they are the sole providers of health care services for a region due to limitations in local topography or prolonged severe weather conditions.


Physician employed by a hospital who specializes in the care of hospitalized patients.

Joint Commission, The

The Joint Commission is the country’s oldest and largest standards and accreditation organization in health care. In 2011 The Joint Commission launched a voluntary certification for hospital palliative care programs, developed under the guidance of a national task force of experts in palliative care.

National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care (NCP)

The National Consensus Project (NCP) represents an alliance of six leading organizations in palliative care: the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), Hospice & Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA), National Association of Social Workers (NASW), National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and the National Palliative Care Research Center (NPCRC).

The guidelines are intended to direct the development and structure of both new and existing palliative care teams, to establish uniform definitions of the essential elements of palliative care and to establish national goals for access to palliative care. They are also intended to promote performance measurement and quality improvement initiatives in palliative care services and to foster continuity of palliative care across settings (including home, hospital, nursing home and hospice).

National Quality Forum (NQF)

A framework for preferred practices of providing quality palliative care, released in 2006 and updated in 2012. Practices are defined across the Institute of Medicine’s six dimensions of quality: safe, effective, timely, efficient, equitable and patient-centered. The NQF Framework used the clinical practice guidelines of the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care as a starting point for identifying expectations and best practices in palliative care.

Palliative care, palliative medicine

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on giving patients relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness no matter what the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and his or her family. Palliative care is delivered by a team of palliative care specialists, including doctors, nurses and social workers who work together with a patient’s other physicians to provide an added layer of support. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage of a serious illness and can be administered at the same time as curative treatment.

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Inquiries about the State-by-State Report Card on Access to Palliative Care in Our Nation’s Hospitals, and/or the National Palliative Care Registry™, should be directed to:

Research Inquiries
Maggie Rogers, MPH
Senior Research Associate
Center to Advance Palliative Care

Media Inquiries
Lisa Morgan
Principal, LDM Strategies

General Inquiries
Center to Advance Palliative Care