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Hospice Care, Designing for Aging, and Inspiring Books on Death and Dying

What’s Honor Radar this week? Medicare for hospice patients, better designing for better aging, five powerful books, and the impact of Justice Scalia’s unexpected death on healthcare in the US.

End-of-Life Medicare

Lengthy Hospice Care Boosts Medicare Bills  – The Wall Street Journal

The number of Medicare patients receiving hospice care in the US has nearly doubled over the past 10 years. Are we seeing a better system of paying for end-of-life care or abuse of Medicare by hospice providers?

Quite possibly both.

“Medicare’s hospice program, which has been around for 33 years, is supposed to be only for patients who doctors certify are likely to die within six months, or about 180 days. Today, care is routinely being extended not only to those with terminal cancer—the program’s original focus—but to patients with an array of ailments, including dementia, whose declines can take years.”

Expansion of hospice-care coverage can benefit many more patients. That’s the good news.

“The most recent Medicare data show that patients dying from Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and other chronic conditions now are among the most common in the hospice program.”

But it also appears to be benefiting hospice-care providers, especially the more aggressive ones, focused on profit rather than patients.

“Hospice-care providers are partly responsible for the expansion, sometimes canvassing nursing homes and other facilities for Medicare patients to persuade to enroll in hospice programs.”

This in-depth report and analysis—“the Journal searched about 35 million billing records for patients who used the service in four different years”—raises awareness of this issue—and more than a few red flags.

Design With, Not For

How Design Thinking Can Help Us With Aging  – Next Avenue

Inspired by a piece published in the Harvard Business Review in December, this article is part of Next Avenue’s 2015 Influencers in Aging project honoring 50 people changing how we age and think about aging.

It succinctly reminds us that “understanding the way older consumers use products, understanding their environments and then responding with innovative design can help us face the challenges of an aging population.”

And provides a short list of design competitions worth following, especially if you’re a fan of other innovators in the field, such as IDEO’s 91-year-old designer Barbara Knickerbocker Beskind.


SCOTUS Scramble

What Justice Scalia’s death could mean for healthcare: 7 things to know  – Becker’s Hospital Review

“The death of 79-year-old Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Saturday could muddle several important healthcare cases in the high court.”

But that’s likely to be slow news behind the political battles threatened by Republicans before President Obama has even hinted at a nominee to replace Scalia. Even if Obama selects a nominee quickly, it’s unlikely the Senate will act until after the November election.

What we know for sure: Until a new justice is selected and confirmed, the court is lopsided in favor of the liberal opinion. In the event of a 4-4 tie vote, no affirmative action can be taken. Scalia’s death will impact several pending cases directly and indirectly related to healthcare.

And inside the Beltway, it will be politics (broken) as usual.

Books Worth Reading

‘The Good Death,’ ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ and More  – The New York Times

“These recent weeks have seen the publication of five books about death: one by a historian; two by hospice workers; one by a widow; one by a man who is dying himself,” writes Andrew Solomon in the Sunday Book Review.

Far more than a typical book review, Solomon’s eloquent commentary on these specific titles is wrapped in a deeper, thoughtful assessment of death and how we die today. The review alone is a powerful read.

At Honor, we are not in the business of death. We are here to support a better quality of life for our clients and their families. And yes, in some cases, that leads to end-of-life care, which is both a great responsibility and a great privilege for us.

The emerging focus on quality of death as well as on quality of life by authors, doctors, thought-leaders, hospice workers, and family caregivers is a gift to us all. These shared insights and experiences lead to more discussion about death and dying, a deeper understanding, and an opportunity to make peace with the idea of death—and to make plans reflecting our own desires for when the time comes.

As Solomon says, “anyone who is fully alive to his or her death need not worry that its meaning will be lost. The transience of life is the engine of its meaning.”


Honor in the News

The 25 hottest San Francisco startups to watch in 2016  – Business Insider

The press coverage and industry support we’ve received recently feels great—and only drives us to work harder to achieve our mission. Here’s this week’s top Honor mention in the news. But don’t stop reading after Honor—number one on the list—we certainly didn’t.

“Amid discussions about blood in the water and the impending doom and gloom of the startup ecosystem, there’s plenty of great startups out there still poised to change the world.” reports Biz Carson.

We’re with you, Biz.

“While many other ‘on-demand care for seniors startups’ rely on independent contractors, Honor flips the system on its head. Its model of taking care of not only the elderly, but also its caretakers, made Honor stand out among the new startups in San Francisco.”

Thank you, Business Insider! We’re proud to be included among so many other innovative new companies. It’s going to be an exciting year.

Radar Love

Human, the Movie

Renowned primatologist and environmental activist Dame Jane Goodall, now 81, shares her wisdom and hopes for the future. Our favorite of her many inspiring thoughts: “There are still so may places I want to go, so many people I want to talk to, so many hearts I want to reach.”

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