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Los Angeles Times
November 7, 2015

Telehealth: Patient care via smartphone

By Kavita Daswani

If you can't find a doctor who makes house calls, telehealth might be an appealing option.

Telehealth — using electronic information and telecommunications to support long-distance healthcare — was once primarily used by people in remote areas who might have to travel for hours to see a doctor.

But today, anybody with a smartphone can video chat with a medical professional about postpartum depression, a bout of rosacea or what's causing that sudden weight gain.

According to a study released in 2013 by market research firm IMS Research, some 1.3 million people in the U.S. will use some form of telehealth by 2017 — up from the 227,000 people who tried it in 2012.

The American Medical Assn. favors the use of telemedicine to advance increased access, care coordination and quality, but patients should be aware of limitations of this kind of treatment, says AMA president Dr. Steven J. Stack.

"Patients should be informed about telemedicine, how it can impact their care and efforts to protect their privacy," he said. He also counsels those looking to consult with doctors via teleconferencing to "be informed about the credentials and qualifications of the physician ... [and] have access to their health records." In addition, he said, patients should be ready to be referred to see a doctor in person, if the case warrants it.

Until that face-to-face visit is called for, however, here are some ways to get non-emergency medical help:

— Maven, founded in April, bills itself as a "digital clinic for women." Download the app and you have access to 400 pediatricians, gynecologists, doulas, lactation consultants and nutritionists around the country, many available to video chat within minutes.

"The majority of healthcare decisions in the U.S. are controlled by women," said Katherine Ryder, Maven's founder and chief executive. "I wanted to create a product that would help women make healthcare decisions and give them instant access when they needed it."

Prices range from $18 for a 10-minute consultation with a nurse practitioner to $70 for a 40-minute chat with a mental health professional. Patients fill in a basic medical history online before speaking with the practitioner and then receive follow-up documentation afterward recounting what occurred during the conversation.

Ryder said that since the launch, Maven practitioners have consulted with women about concerns including postpartum depression, fertility treatments and how to jump-start a weight-loss plan.

— DermCheck was launched in July by Santa Monica dermatologist Ben Behnam. The app allows users to take photos of their acne, cold sore or rash and send it to a dermatologist for a flat fee of $39.95, which includes the consultation, diagnosis, prescription and follow-up. Cost of medication is extra.

The app can be used by people in California, New York and Florida, with more states to be added later this year.

Behnam said it is fairly easy for a doctor to determine by reviewing the initial photograph and responses to a questionnaire whether a condition needs further investigation. The company has also contracted with pharmacies to ship out the drugs a DermCheck dermatologist might prescribe.

"Our doctors have all the time in the world to stare at the multiple photos a patient sends in," said Behnam. "It's much easier to avoid the in-office chaos this way."

— Those seeking spiritual counseling — including traumatized veterans and people struggling with cancer or other life-threatening conditions — can access the 54-year-old, New York-based HealthCare Chaplaincy Network's video-chat facility free of charge. And religion has nothing to do with it, said Eric J. Hall, the network's president and chief executive.

"Chaplaincy is everything but religion," he said. "Chaplains are trained to walk into any situation — Buddhist, Muslim, someone with no belief system — and simply accept them where they are." Although chaplaincy has historically been associated with last rites, Hall said there are "numerous situations in healthcare right now where people would benefit from a listening ear. That's what healthcare is finding, across the field." Chaplains in the network have helped with situations such as an injured athlete struggling to figure out what to do next or a person newly diagnosed with a serious health condition.

The video chat "is not meant to replace a chaplain making a physical visit," said Hall. "But we have to recognize that there are numerous situations where that's just not possible. And sometimes people like talking to a stranger because there's a comfort there."



Schreening of Chaplain


This "CPE Lite" training will help you strengthen your volunteer base.

Properly trained volunteers are a great resource to visit patients in hospitals and other health care facilities and at home. That's why HealthCare Chaplaincy Network has created the Chaplaincy Care Volunteer Training Manual, and many chaplains and spiritual care directors in the U.S. and elsewhere are putting it to good use.

The manual draws upon national expertise in the field of chaplaincy and volunteer management to help you train volunteers in:

  • Identifying spiritual distress
  • Communication and listening
  • Understanding the patient: including older adults and aging issues and individuals with visual or hearing impairments
  • Visitation
  • Cultural competency, spirituality, and religion
  • Death and grief
  • Confidentiality

The manual incorporates a range of teaching tools, such as practice examples, role playing exercises and reflective pieces, to ensure that different learning styles are accommodated.

Cost: Manual $35 (within the US)/$40 (outside the US)

Read more about the manual's contents and representative endorsements from volunteer trainers and to order here.


10 selected articles covering patient experience, palliative care, spiritual care, telehealth and a physician's perspective.



HealthCare Chaplaincy Recognizes Providence St. Vincent Medical Center for Excellence in Spiritual Care

Hospital Is Second in Nation to Meet National Quality Standards


New York, N.Y. (October 27, 2015)—HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN) today named Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Ore., as a recipient of the nonprofit organization’s “Excellence in Spiritual Care Award.”

The award signifies that Providence St. Vincent is committed to meeting its patients’ spiritual and religious needs, and has met HCCN’s proprietary Standards of Excellence in Spiritual Care.

The hospital is the second recipient of the award, following on the heels of Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Announcement of the award comes during National Pastoral Care Week.

HCCN’s recent introduction of the Excellence in Spiritual Care Award aligns with a growing body of research demonstrating the positive impact of spiritual care, including overall patient satisfaction and better patient quality of life near death.

“It speaks volumes for patients, families and staff that Providence St. Vincent prioritizes the integration of spiritual care into its health care practices,” said Rev. Eric J. Hall, HCCN’s president and CEO. “It is executing spiritual care in a way that other hospitals should aspire to achieve, with an eye on enhancing the patient experience and clinical outcomes.”

Fr. Freddy Ocun, AJ, director of the pastoral services department at Providence St. Vincent, said, “We are proud to be recognized by an organization that champions excellence in spiritual care. Going through the process engaged us with other departments and was a real affirmation of our ministry and interdisciplinary team collaboration. Earning this award truly shows the commitment by the medical center's leadership and caregivers to spiritual care as a component of whole-person care. We are grateful to our leadership for their support.”

The hospital, which has 523 licensed beds, is part of Providence Health & Services in Oregon, a nonprofit network of hospitals, health plans, physicians, clinics, and affiliated health services. It has 11 chaplains, a music thanatologist, and an administrative assistant in its pastoral services department.

HCCN identified the national standards of excellence based on professional literature and its 54-year history as a leader in spiritual-related clinical care, education and research. The 15 standards include employing an interdisciplinary approach to spiritual care; engaging in quality improvement projects; and the strategic deployment of chaplaincy care resources.

As part of the review process, HCCN specialists identify areas in an institution’s spiritual care program in need of improvement, provide consultation to achieve goals, and assist in more fully integrating chaplaincy services into its overall health care delivery. Currently, other health care settings nationwide are undergoing evaluation for the award.

To view infographics on the value of chaplaincy, visit www.hccninfographics.org


HealthCare Chaplaincy to Honor Two New York Trailblazers With Lifetime Achievement Awards

NYU Langone Medical Center, EmblemHealth Awardees Touch Lives Every Day

NEW YORK, N.Y. (October 14, 2015)—James L. Speyer, M.D., professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, and Rev. Gregory L. Johnson, senior advisor for family caregiving-office of the CEO at EmblemHealth, both in New York, will each receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN) on November 5.

The nonprofit organization will present the two health care professionals with the prestigious award at its annual Wholeness of Life Gala at the Mandarin Oriental-New York.

“Dr. Speyer and Rev. Johnson stand out in the health care scene, especially in the minds and hearts of patients and their families. Each has been an innovator in their respective fields and has demonstrated a remarkable and compassionate commitment to whole-person care,” said Rev. Eric J. Hall, HCCN’s president and CEO.

Speyer is a highly-respected medical oncologist and long-time advocate for patients living with cancer. He currently serves as associate director for strategic planning, network development and public affairs at the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone; is an attending physician at NYU Langone and Bellevue Hospital Center in New York; and has authored more than 120 peer-reviewed publications.

Johnson, an ordained minister, created EmblemHealth’s Care for the Family Caregiver initiative in 2005, and, since, has been an avid advocate for family caregivers both at EmblemHealth and with multiple caregiving organizations, including the New York City Family Caregiver Coalition and the NYC chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. He also serves as minister for the prayer circle at Marble Collegiate Church in New York; volunteer chaplain for the NYPD-GOAL (Gay Officers Action League); and spiritual director at the Addiction Institute of New York.

Also at the gala, HCCN will present Patient Care Awards to a diverse group of employees for their efforts in improving the patient experience at major New York area hospitals with which HCCN is affiliated. The awardees are: David Y. Wang, M.D., director of chronic pain education and assistant attending anesthesiologist at Hospital for Special Surgery; Doreen Bacotti, clinical nurse-breast medical oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Floyd Roundtree, a patient transporter at NYU Langone Medical Center; and Charles Thompson, supervisor of grounds at Winthrop-University Hospital.

Evidence is mounting that spiritual care is a vital component of a person’s overall well-being and is especially critical during illness and near end of life. Meeting spiritual/religious needs can improve medical outcomes and patient satisfaction, and reduce costs.

“The 2015 gala comes at a pivotal point in the world of spiritual health and in HCCN’s 54-year history,” said Hall. “While our organization continues to provide traditional bedside chaplaincy, we also have been transforming the delivery of spiritual care through technology to respond to the changing health care environment and touch more lives. It’s a concept whose time has come.”

HCCN’s new services include on-call chaplaincy, in which people in spiritual distress can connect with professional multifaith chaplains via phone, email and video chat; interactive telehealth programs in palliative care and spiritual care; and HCCN-TV spiritual care programming.

For more information about the Wholeness of Life Gala, visit www.HCCNgala.org.


September 2015 Issue No. 3

We hope that you find this monthly e-newsletter informative. We have included a downloadable PDF version created for readers who prefer that format. Please feel free to send any questions or comments to comm@healthcarechaplaincy.org.

Rev. Eric J. Hall
President & CEO
HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, Inc.



How spirituality and religion impact patient outcomes (FierceHealthcare.com)

Three new studies examine how personal beliefs influence cancer patients' physical, social and mental health. Although clinicians may be reluctant to discuss religious and spiritual beliefs with their patients, three new studies shed light on how faith can impact cancer patients' mental, social and physical well-being.

The studies, published online in Cancer, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, indicate there is a significant link between religion, spirituality and patient outcomes but variability on how they relate to the different aspects of health.


3 Highly Visual Infographics Present Research Findings on the Benefits of Spiritual/Chaplaincy Care (HealthCareChaplaincy Network)

View and download these at http://www.healthcarechaplaincy.org/media-kit/infographics.html

Transforming Chaplaincy Project Launched: Promoting Research Literacy for Improved Patient Outcomes (funded by the John Templeton Foundation)

The project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, with support from the APC, NACC, NAJC and ACPE, aims to equip healthcare chaplains to use research to guide, evaluate, and advocate for the daily spiritual care they provide patients, family members and colleagues. Transforming Chaplaincy has three initiatives. The project will provide: 1) Research Chaplain Fellowships to pay for 16 board-certified chaplains to complete a two-year, research-focused master's degree; 2) Curriculum Development Grants to 70 CPE programs to support incorporation of research literacy education in their residency curricula; and 3) a free Online Continuing Education course, Religion, Spirituality and Health: An Introduction to Research for members of the supporting organizations. Details about these three initiatives, including application information and timelines, are on the project website. The Calendar page lists activities that provide additional information about the Fellowships and CPE Grants. These include a webinar entitled Teaching Research Literacy in CPE, upcoming informational conference calls, and conferences and ACPE regional events where a Transforming Chaplaincy representative will be on hand to answer questions. You can sign up on the website to be on the email list to receive updates on applications and project-related events. You are also welcome to contact the project coordinator, Kathryn Lyndes, PhD, at mailto:MKathryn_Lyndes@rush.edu and 312.942.0247 for further information.


Palliative Care

"Tide is turning" in favor of palliative care, experts say (HealthAffairs Blog)

Two recent announcements by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) demonstrate a clear commitment to improving the quality of care for older adults with serious illnesses. Together with the introduction of a bipartisan bill to better train our nation’s health care workforce, these announcements suggest that the tide is turning in the effort to provide high-quality, patient-centered care to medically complex and seriously ill patients.




Spirituality may be tied to easier cancer course (Reuters Health)

Cancer patients who report more religiousness or spirituality may also experience fewer physical symptoms of cancer and treatment and more social connection, several new papers suggest.

The new analyses reviewed previous studies of spirituality involving more than 44,000 cancer patients altogether. The studies varied in many ways, but religion and spirituality were associated with better health regardless of specific religion or set of spiritual beliefs.



Importance of End of Life Care Advance Conversations

Why Medicare should reimburse doctors for end-of-life care conversations (theconversation.com)

On July 8, Medicare announced plans to reimburse physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants for services to help their patients plan the care they would want if they were too ill to speak for themselves. If approved, the plan will take effect in January 2016. It’s about time.

I am a palliative care provider and a researcher in end-of-life care. In my experience, these kinds of services, called “advance care planning” (ACP), are incredibly valuable, especially to patients who are older and their families. My colleagues and I have found that 43% of elderly Americans require decision-making at the end of life about such things as life support and CPR. But 70% of them lack the capacity to make those decisions for themselves or to communicate them to others.


Can We Talk?: People who discuss their end-of-life wishes are less likely to die in a hospital or burden relatives with tough medical decisions. Here's how to get the conversation started. (NeurologyNow)



Patient Satisfaction

For Hospitals, Sleep And Patient Satisfaction May Go Hand In Hand (Kaiser Health News)

As hospitals chase better patient ratings and health outcomes, an increasing number are rethinking how they function at night — in some cases reducing nighttime check-ins or trying to better coordinate medicines — so that more patients can sleep relatively uninterrupted.

“Sleep disruptions are actually not benign as far as patients are concerned,” said Dana Edelson, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and an author on the 2013 study. “We’re putting them at unnecessary risk when we’re waking them up in the middle of the night when they don’t need to be.”

And possibly making the recovery a bit more difficult.

“Patients will tell you, ‘I was so exhausted, I couldn’t wait to get home and go sleep,’” said Yale’s Pisani.



Perspectives from Physicians

Why doctors overtreat patients. And how to fix it. (KevinMD.com)

Much of the aggressive and invasive health care we provide in the United States today, compared to time-tested, more conservative approaches, adds little value. And when independent scientific comparisons are done, the more complex approach often results not only in higher costs, but also in complications and adverse effects – all without significant benefit to the patient.

  • Overtreatment explained
  • How much does an ounce of prevention really weigh?
  • How we harm the dying
  • What should we do?


Doctors Fail to Address Patients’ Spiritual Needs (The New York Times Well Blog)

Over the years, however, I have increasingly seen how many patients, especially when confronting the end of life, value their emotional, existential and spiritual feelings over further medical treatment when it begins to seem futile.

Eventually, my patient dying from cancer did speak with a chaplain. I noticed him visiting her one day as I walked by her door. I again spotted him two days later heading toward her door. The next morning, I thought that she looked calmer, more relieved than I’d seen her in weeks. She still had unremitting fevers and died a few months later, in that room. But the chaplain had helped her, I felt, in a way that I and medical treatment could not.

I still regret my silence with that patient, but have tried to learn from it. Doctors themselves do not have to be spiritual or religious, but they should recognize that for many patients, these issues are important, especially at life’s end. If doctors don’t want to engage in these conversations, they shouldn’t. Instead, a physician can simply say: “Some patients would like to have a discussion with someone here about spiritual issues; some patients wouldn’t. If you would like to, we can arrange for someone to talk with you.”

Unfortunately, countless patients feel uncomfortable broaching these topics with their doctors. And most physicians still never raise it.


Three comments about professional chaplaincy/spiritual care were posted to the New York Times Well blog site when Dr. Klitzman’s piece was published:

Sue Wintz
Thank you so much Dr. Klitzman for writing on this very important and too often overlooked aspect of patient-centered care. As a board certified professional chaplain, I've spent over 30 years working with patients and families. I've also educated and supported physicians and other members of the health care team about important issues arising in care and treatment that would not have been addressed if not for the spiritual assessment I'd done through conversation with patients and their families. Spiritual, religious, existential, and cultural beliefs - whatever they may be - are central to how persons experience their illness, make decisions, interact with their families/families of choice and the health care team. We do them a disservice when we 6 ignore or overlook those aspects. In response to your statement that doctors say "If you would like to, we can arrange someone to talk to you" about spiritual issues." Professional chaplains are full members of the interdisciplinary team and in the hospitals in which I worked, consults and/or MD orders were made to me as they were to any other discipline. If someone appears to be experiencing spiritual distress, sometimes asking if they want to see a chaplain, especially if they don't define themselves as spiritual/religious or think that the chaplain is going to try and convert them (we don't, it's against our code of ethics) asking them that question may cause more embarrassment and distress. Just make the consult.

Jodie Futornick
I am also a professional, board certified chaplain, and I will attest that Rev. Wintz is exactly right. Chaplains are professionals with expertise in spiritual assessment and care. Our training is to accompany people on their journeys and help them to access the spiritual resources that are most helpful to them. Many people have pre-conceptions about the role of a chaplain, fearing that we come to preach or proselytize to them in their most vulnerable moments. Nothing can be farther from the truth. If a patient is, for example, a devout Catholic and wishes the sacraments of the Church, I can arrange for a priest to minister to them, but I also remain available to speak with them about the issues that are closest to their hearts and souls. Likewise, I visit with many people who profess no religious affiliation. My primary goal as a chaplain is to help people identify what gives deepest meaning to their lives and gives them the strength to face their health care challenges.

A third comment that was posted: Thanks to Dr. Klitzman for writing about this important issue, which is not only an end-of-life issue but also for patients and their loved ones who are coping with a life-changing health crisis either as an inpatient or outpatient, and wrestling with issues of spiritual distress – a painful disruption in one’s belief or values system. Spiritual distress presents itself both emotionally and physically, from rejection of care to chronic insomnia, and may or may not be grounded in religious belief or practice. Dr. Klitzman's article and some comments mention the role of chaplains, and that's good. To amplify: In addition to clergy who volunteer their services for those of their specific faith, there exist professional health care chaplains who are experts in providing spiritual care for everyone regardless of religion or beliefs. On the interdisciplinary health care team, professional chaplains are the spiritual care specialists. One becomes a professional health care chaplain when he or she is board certified by one of the professional chaplaincy associations. Requirements include graduate level study, 1600 hours of supervised clinical pastoral education, 2000 hours of clinical experience, demonstration of competencies through a rigorous peer review process, adherence to a professional code of ethics to serve all and not promote any particular faith tradition, and continuing professional education.



Hospitals Rev Mobile Patient Engagement (HealthLeaders Magazine)

Providers' willingness to partner with the technology industry to explore collecting personal activity-tracking information demonstrates the value of boosting patient engagement via mobile devices.




HealthCare Chaplaincy Network Joins Sharecare as New Content Collaborator to Educate Consumers on Spiritual Care, Palliative Care, End of Life

Quick link to HealthCare Chaplaincy Network’s page on Sharecare.com: https://www.sharecare.com/group/healthcare-chaplaincy-network

New York, N.Y. (September 16, 2015)-- Sharecare, a comprehensive health and wellness engagement platform, and HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN), a global leader in spiritual-related education, research and clinical care, today announced that HCCN has joined Sharecare’s vibrant community of experts as a content collaborator.

Through Sharecare’s interactive platform, HCCN will provide easily-accessible and consumer-friendly information online about spiritual care, palliative care, and end of life. These topics are applicable to all disease states and all population segments, including people who are healthy or living with chronic or terminal illness.

The collaboration comes amidst growing evidence that spiritual health is a vital component of overall wellness and whole person care, and as multi-disciplinary health care providers increasingly focus on palliative care to improve quality of life for people with serious illness.

 “We are excited that Sharecare is giving HealthCare Chaplaincy Network a dynamic platform to provide education and guidance about spiritual care, palliative care, and end-of-life care. This information can help facilitate critical conversations among patients, family members, and health care providers, and empower individuals to better manage their care, and find hope, comfort and meaning during times of need,” said Eric J. Hall, HCCN’s president and CEO.

HCCN’s presence on Sharecare expands access to the nonprofit organization’s experts and resources, and builds on its recent efforts to extend the reach of spiritual care beyond the traditional hospital bedside. HCCN content posted on Sharecare addresses practical, spiritual and emotional issues, including advance directives, palliative and hospice care, spiritual distress, the role of chaplains, finding comfort near end of life, and grief. It links to HCCN’s online resources for consumers (www.soulcareproject.org, such as free counseling by professional, multi-faith chaplains, prayer requests, and spiritual self-assessment tools and exercises.

“When faced with illness, suffering or the grief that surrounds the death of a loved one, many people need advice not only about end-of-life care but also spiritual guidance, regardless of their beliefs," said Russ Johannesson, chief operating officer of Sharecare. "We are honored to add the HealthCare Chaplaincy Network to our family of content partners to provide our users with the knowledge, expertise and compassion the organization has provided to so many for more than 50 years.”

Recognition of the importance of spiritual care’s integration into health care is on the rise.  “Dying in America,” a 2014 consensus report by the nationally-acclaimed Institute of Medicine, found that, “Ideally, health care should harmonize with social, psychological and spiritual support to achieve the highest possible quality of life for people of all ages with serious illnesses or injuries.”

A number of research studies show that the majority of Americans say that spirituality, in some form, should be an important consideration in their health care. Yet one study showed that 72 percent of patients said their spiritual needs were minimally or not at all supported by the medical system even though spiritual support was highly associated with quality of life.

Visit HealthCare Chaplaincy Network’s page on Sharecare.com at: https://www.sharecare.com/group/healthcare-chaplaincy-network


"Advanced Spirituality Practice in Palliative Care Certificate" Course Starts Sept. 30th.  Click here for more information and to register.

New Course Created Due to Popular Demand...

...from the more than 400 satisfied students who asked for more after completing the online fundamentals course The Palliative Care Chaplaincy Specialty Certificate offered jointly by the California State University Institute for Palliative Care and HealthCare Chaplaincy Network™.

"Advanced Spirituality Practice in Palliative Care Certificate" Course

This advanced course explores specific topics in an in-depth manner that requires participants to engage in deeper critical thinking which can be articulated into advanced practice, enhancing professional practice and leadership in the provision of spiritual care as an integral component of palliative care.

Students Say:

"This is another outstanding course with excellent resources and rich discussion. I highly recommend this course to professionals who wish to expand their spiritual care and palliative care practice."

Learning Objectives:

  1. Integrate knowledge of palliative care into contributions to the plan of care
  2. Distinguish and demonstrate application of ways in which chaplains assist patients and families, in partnership with the team, in identifying the benefits and burdens of specific medical interventions
  3. Demonstrate and apply expertise in palliative care communication skills to assist in goal clarification in patient/family meetings
  4. Through spiritual assessment, define, document, formulate goals, interventions, and plans that can be articulated clearly in each palliative care situation, applied appropriately, and modified based on changes in the status of patient or situation
  5. Utilize QI data to refine palliative care programs and services specific to chaplaincy.
  6. Identify, recommend, and integrate diversity concepts, needs, and interventions into patient/family care plan.
  7. Analyze the needs and construct assessments and interventions specific to marginalized patient populations
  8. Identify and execute best practices for incorporating chaplaincy assessment and documentation planning/continuity of care

This Course Is For:

  • Chaplains who have completed the Palliative Care Chaplaincy Care Certificate course who want to build upon that knowledge base and continue to develop their skills to improve patient outcomes
  • Board certified chaplains wishing to enhance preparation for a specialty certification from a professional chaplaincy association
  • Department directors who meet the course requirements and desire to build upon the expertise and contributions of the palliative care team

Course Prerequisites:

Successfully completed the foundational course: Palliative Care Chaplaincy Specialty Certificate


Obtained Board certification from a professional chaplaincy association

Registration Now Open for Course Starting September 30th

  • Instructor-Led Online Course
  • 56 Continuing Education Hours

Questions? Please call: 760-750-4006.



Home Health Care News Reports: HealthCare Chaplaincy Network Adds Spiritual Care for Palliative Patients

By Amy Baxter
Home Health Care News
August 12, 2015

As demand for telehealth services is growing, HealthCare Chaplaincy Network has added spiritual care services to its registry of traditional chaplaincy services in a technology-driven roll-out to comfort and help adults facing serious illness and grief. The company has announced two pilot programs to connect patients with serious illnesses via computer, tablet or mobile phones to spiritual care resources.

“For the growing population in need of palliative care, telehealth technologies are filling an increasing, and often unmet, need for individuals in crisis – whether physical, social, emotional, psychological or spiritual,” HCCN stated. 

Instead of traditional bedside chaplaincy that is typically face-to-face for end-of-life care, HCCN is bringing this spiritual care to the home setting. Telehealth and spiritual care services are cost effective care options, and the need for these services continues to grow, the company says.

HCCN made the move after seeing an increase in the number of palliative care patients and seeing greater benefits from such services, including shorter hospital stays and increased outpatient delivery of services. HCCN also noted that the growing trend of people utilizing home care and the opinion that more Americans want alternative health care treatments as part of their overall care.

“Studies show that 70% of Americans believe some form of spirituality should be part of their health care,” HCCN authors wrote in a statement. 

Of those surveyed, 72% responded that their spiritual needs were only minimally met or not supported by the medical system. HCCN noted that this increasing interest in whole-person care, including body, mind and spirit, supports the cost-effectiveness of new technology for this type of care for patients and their families. 

HCCN has collaborated with VOX and invested in two new telepath services in addition to its chaplaincy services: Palliative Connect and Spiritual Care Connect to digitally connect seriously ill patients in need of “skillful, compassionate end-of-life care.” HCCN found success with ChaplainsOnHand.org for helping patients deal with emotional and spiritual distress and has created two more sites tailored to specific patients, CantBelieveIHaveCancer.org and ChaplainCareforVeterans.org. Patients with all spiritual backgrounds are welcome to HCCN’s latest health care services. 

HCCN-TV is another portal with 10 programs for spiritual care-related topics for outpatient and long-term care settings. HCCN plans to soon have these programs available as downloads for private viewing. Program topics cover “big issues” and range from prayers, inspirational quotes, palliative and hospice care, grief, critical conversations to have with a loved one who is seriously ill and legal and financial planning. 




August 2015   Issue No. 2

We appreciate the positive feedback and constructive advice from so many subscribers for last month’s first edition of this new e-newsletter. It links to selected articles on patient-centered care including spiritual care and chaplaincy care.

HealthCare Chaplaincy Network will send it during the first week of each once a month. We hope that you find this content informative.

Please feel free to send any questions or comments to comm@healthcarechaplaincy.org


Rev. Eric J. Hall
President & CEO
HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, Inc.

Patients Tell Their Stories

"Good Palliative Care, Bad Palliative Care: A Tale of 2 Doctors by Stage 4 colorectal cancer patient (WBUR’s CommonHealth)

This experience reminded me of the importance of my relationship to my physician, and that I cannot handle everything alone. My doctor or provider’s attitude, his or her words and connection to me as a human makes a physical difference in my well-being. This may not be true for everyone, but for me, it helps when I am heard, and when my concerns, which may not seem like much, are taken to heart Read more: http://ow.ly/PL0SG

Learning My Role in My Own Patient-Centered Care (hhs.gov/blog)

What started out as a bad case of the flu 14 years ago became a journey of more than 100 emergency room visits and hospital re-admissions, countless lab tests and numerous specialists. I became a case study of what happens when lack of patient engagement meets up with uncoordinated care.

The good news is I also became a case study of what happens when health care providers and patients truly communicate and work together. Read more:  http://1.usa.gov/1DqpOfq

As both a patient and a Doctor’s wife she writes: Humanize your physician: They are real people. (Kevin MD)

They live real lives. And the majority of them are people, much like my husband, who are in this field not for the money, but to make a difference in the lives of the people they meet. They are not perfect. But they try as hard as they can do the very best job they can. Read more: http://ow.ly/QaJKq

Spiritual Care

Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) has received the Excellence in Spiritual Care Award from the HealthCare Chaplaincy Network™ (HCCN).  Special Surgery received the award at a ceremony at the hospital on July 27.

New York, NY -- July 28, 2015 
 "This award signifies that Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is committed to identifying and optimally addressing your patients' spiritual and religious needs," said Jose Hernandez, Chief Operating Officer of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network. "It is an honor to name HSS as the first recipient in the country to be recognized with this prestigious award."

 "We know that many of our patients' spiritual and religious needs are as important as their physical ones, making chaplaincy fundamental to the hospital's pursuit of health care excellence," said Louis A. Shapiro, HSS president and CEO. "I would like to thank the HealthCare Chaplaincy Network for this award and for inspiring us all to continue to integrate spiritual care into our health care practices for the comfort and benefit of all who choose HSS as their leading orthopedic and rheumatology hospital."

In applying for the award, health care institutions undergo a thorough and detailed process to determine if their organization currently provides excellent spiritual care.

Read morehttp://bit.ly/1DqsJop

Learn more about how a health care organization can earn the Excellence in Spiritual Care Awardhttp://bit.ly/1gHuHXS 

Controversies in faith and health care (The Lancet)

Differences in religious faith-based viewpoints (controversies) on the sanctity of human life, acceptable behaviour, health-care technologies and health-care services contribute to the widespread variations in health care worldwide. Faith-linked controversies include family planning, child protection (especially child marriage, female genital mutilation, and immunisation), stigma and harm reduction, violence against women, sexual and reproductive health and HIV, gender, end-of-life issues, and faith activities including prayer. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and traditional beliefs have similarities and differences in their viewpoints. Improved understanding by health-care providers of the heterogeneity of viewpoints, both within and between faiths, and their effect on health care is important for clinical medicine, public-health programmes, and health-care policy. Increased appreciation in faith leaders of the effect of their teachings on health care is also crucial. This Series paper outlines some faith-related controversies, describes how they influence health-care provision and uptake, and identifies opportunities for research and increased interaction between faith leaders and health-care providers to improve health care.  Read more: http://bit.ly/1O1zMEk 

Chaplains are resource to help reduce palliative care staff burnout (Palliative Medicine, the official research journal of the European Association for Palliative Care

Study results show reveal that burnout and psychological morbidity are significant in the palliative care community and demonstrate a need to look at managing long working hours and promoting the use of coping mechanisms to reduce burnout and psychological morbidity. Coping mechanisms like physical well-being, clinical variety, setting boundaries, transcendental (meditation and quiet reflection), passion for one’s work, realistic expectations, remembering patients and organisational activities were associated with less burnout.  Read more:  http://ow.ly/PL3yI  

Healthcare in General

“Tipping Point” author Malcolm Gladwell’s 5 key thoughts on healthcare (Becker’s Hospital Review)

  • On the high prices for pharmaceuticals
  • On the misrepresentation of physicians' relationship with EHRs
  • On becoming a surgeon in 10,000 hours
  • On needing to change the practice of medicine
  • On healthcare's 'Tipping Point' and reducing waste
    Read more: http://bit.ly/1SZXouB 

Telehealth Growth

Modern Doctors’ House Calls: Skype Chat and Fast Diagnosis (NY Times)

The same forces that have made instant messaging and video calls part of daily life for many Americans are now shaking up basic medical care.  Read more: http://nyti.ms/1IK6SZz

Telemedicine Gets a Lift from UnitedHealthcare (Becker’s Hospital Review)

With the launch this spring of a nationwide telemedicine-provider network, the country's largest commercial health insurer is set to offer coverage for virtual doctor visits to 20 million beneficiaries by next year. Read more: http://bit.ly/1eQpxXx 

Long-term Care

Big problem that will get worse:
Studies show Americans don't know reality of long-term care

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, with funding from The SCAN Foundation, is undertaking a series of major studies on the public’s experiences with, and opinions and attitudes about, long-term care in the United States. Read more:  http://bit.ly/1SZXItl

A Thought-Starter

A Hospice Physician Writes “The Art of Dying Well” (Pallimed – A Hospice & Palliative Medicine Blog)

“In the success driven society that we live in, I’m surprised there is so little out there about a successful dying experience. There are hundreds of books about how to be a successful parent, a successful spouse, a successful employee or employer. There are success how to’s for education, healthcare, businesses, nonprofits and churches. 

“Likely, this absence of material about successful dying comes from the link of success to achievement. No one feels confident linking death with achievement. However, what about the idea of dying well? Is this something individually or culturally we should strive for?...” Read more: http://ow.ly/Q9kpK



HealthCare Chaplaincy Network™ (HCCN) presented Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) the first Excellence in Spiritual Care Award at a ceremony at the hospital on July 27.

“This award signifies that your hospital is committed to identifying and optimally addressing your patients’ spiritual and religious needs,” said Jose Hernandez, Chief Operating Officer of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network. “It is an honor to name Hospital for Special Surgery as the first recipient in the country to be recognized with this prestigious award.”

 “We know that many of our patients’ spiritual and religious needs are as important as their physical ones, making chaplaincy fundamental to the hospital’s pursuit of health care excellence,” said Louis A. Shapiro, HSS president and CEO. “I would like to thank the HealthCare Chaplaincy Network for this award and for inspiring us all to continue to integrate spiritual care into our health care practices for the comfort and benefit of all who choose HSS as their leading orthopedic and rheumatology hospital.”

In applying for the award, health care institutions undergo a thorough and detailed process to determine if their organization currently provides excellent spiritual care.

There are 15 proprietary Standards of Excellence in Spiritual Care that HCCN has identified in the professional literature and through its extensive 50-plus year history as providers of spiritual care.

To receive the award, an organization must meet at least eight of the 15 standards, which include employing an interdisciplinary approach to spiritual care, engaging in quality improvement projects, and the strategic deployment of chaplaincy care resources.

Learn more about how an organization can earn the Excellence in Spiritual Care Award here.


Left to right: Chaplain Margo Heda of HCCN & HSS, Lisa Goldstein – HSS Chief Operating Officer, Jose Hernandez – HCC Chief Operating Officer, Louis A. Shapiro – HSS president and CEO, Sister Margaret Oettinger, O.P. of HCCN & Director of Spiritual Care at HSS

About Hospital for Special Surgery

Founded in 1863, Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is a world leader in orthopedics, rheumatology and rehabilitation. HSS is nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics, No. 3 in rheumatology and No. 7 in geriatrics by U.S. News & World Report (2015-2016), and is the first hospital in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center three consecutive times. HSS has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. HSS is a member of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System and an affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College and as such all Hospital for Special Surgery medical staff are faculty of Weill Cornell. The hospital's research division is internationally recognized as a leader in the investigation of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases. Hospital for Special Surgery is located in New York City and online at www.hss.edu.

About HealthCare Chaplaincy Network™

HealthCare Chaplaincy Network™ is a global nonprofit organization that offers spiritual care-related information and resources, and professional chaplaincy services in hospitals, other health care settings, and online. Its mission is to advance the integration of spiritual care in health care through clinical practice, research and education in order to increase patient satisfaction and help people faced with illness and grief find comfort and meaning—whoever they are, whatever they believe, wherever they are. For more information, visit www.healthcarechaplaincy.org.


Dear Friend,

The Can'tBelieveIHaveCancer® website provides spiritual care for anyone facing cancer or who has faced cancer - whoever you are, whatever, you believe, wherever you are:

  • Free information for the Newly Diagnosed, Those in Treatment Now, Survivors, Those for Whom It's Not Going Well, Caregivers, and Friends.
  • Easy to request a free and confidential Chat with a highly experienced professional heath care chaplain by phone, email, or video.
  • Find prayers online for anyone or by religion

Can'tBelieveIHaveCancer® is a safe place to address fears, emotions, and the struggle to find meaning, comfort, and hope.

If you know of anyone that you think may want to know about Can'tBelieveIHaveCancer®, please do tell them about it.




This introduces the first edition of a new e-newsletter that HealthCare Chaplaincy Network will send to you once a month with links to selected articles on patient-centered care including spiritual care and chaplaincy care. We hope that you find this content informative.

Please feel free to send any questions or comments to comm@healthcarechaplaincy.org.


Rev. Eric J. Hall
President & CEO
HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, Inc.

Making Patient-centered Care a Reality 

Duty to Relieve Spiritual Suffering? What Do Physicians Think? 

Seeing God Through My Patients 

Medicare Plans to Pay Doctors for Counseling on End of Life 

5 Ways Hospice Care Is Changing Americans' Lives, Because End Of Life Care Should Be Anything But An Afterthought 

Advance Care Planning Does Not Adversely Affect Hope or Anxiety Among Patients With Advanced Cancer 

A Terrible Way To End Someone's Life 

Interesting story: his work in hospice & palliative care helped him deal with the Nepal earthquake & aftermath 

Palliative Care Fast Facts & Concepts 

Early palliative care can save money, reduce patient stay in hospital 

Research: Can the Oncologist's Attitude Affect Patient Outcomes?

Physical and Psychological Distress Are Related to Dying Peacefully in Residents With Dementia in Long-Term Care Facilities - Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 

More Family Caregivers Are No Spring Chickens Themselves 

10 key components of a post-discharge care model for older patients 

The Importance of Preventing Burnout Among Physicians and Nurses 

25 things to know about telemedicine & telehealth 

The digital doctor is in: Next wave in health care 

Talking to Kids about Death and Dying 

Hospice and the Surviving Spouse 


Brother David Steindl-Rast reminds us that the Chinese word for “busy” is composed of two characters: “heart” and “killing.” When we make ourselves so busy that we are always rushing around trying to get this or that “done,” or “over with,” we kill something vital in ourselves, and we smother the quiet wisdom of our heart. When we invest our work with judgment and impatience, always striving for speed and efficiency, we lose the capacity to appreciate the million quiet moments that may bring us peace, beauty, or joy. As we seek salvation through our frantic productivity and accomplishments, we squander the teachings that may be present in this very moment, in the richness of this particular breath. -- Angeles Arrien, PhD (Courtesy Frederic Craigie's Reflectioin for week of July 6) 


 “Learning how to experience gratitude involves being grateful as an attitude, not as a reaction when good things occur. One does not need to wait until things are perfect before being grateful; in fact, it may be just the opposite. It could be that the act of being grateful, in itself, makes one receptive to life’s blessings, and these blessings continue as we continue to be thankful."- Robert Emmons, PhD (Thanks Frederic Craigie’s reflection for week of June 22)


Documenting Advance Directives among Seriously-Ill Patients

 IRB Approval NMSU 12188

Hello Health Care Providers!

Advance directive education is important for all seriously ill patients. The purpose of this study is to assess health care providers’ views on educating patients about advance directives, especially those with life-threatening cancers.

We are interested in hearing from you because many barriers exist to engage patients in such complex discussions and because all providers are responsible for moving patient education forward. Examining providers' views is needed to clarify their motivation to educate patients and understand the limitations that hinder their ability to engage patients in advance care planning education. It is very important for us to understand the whole picture from all different providers, including physicians, nurses, and social workers.

Your participation in this survey will allow us to assess providers’ attitudes, knowledge, and practices about educated patients on advance directive to develop a plan for end of life care. Your responses will assist researchers to develop better educational tools and programs to improve advance directive documentation which is especially important to deliver patient centered care for seriously ill older adults.

Voluntary Participation

This one-time survey can be completing in about 20 minutes (5 minutes for consent and 15 minutes for the survey questions). Providers can volunteer to participate by signing up immediately during recruitment efforts through Qualtrics survey link or by calling our office (575-646-1243) to enroll. We will also use snowball sampling and ask you to forward the survey link to other providers in social work, medicine, and nursing.

Please feel free to ask any questions directly or simply go to the Qualtrics link at


For more information or if you have any questions pertaining to this research, you may contact Dr. Frances Nedjat-Haiem, PhD LCSW at haiem@nmsu.edu

We truly appreciate hearing from all providers doing valuable work to improve care for their patients and family members.

Feel free to forward this link to other providers!!!     Thank you so much for your time!


Frances Nedjat-Haiem, PhD, LCSW
Associate Professor
New Mexico State University, School of Social Work
Hartford - Veterans Affairs Social Work Scholar, 2012-2014

Research Scientist, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System



Unique Professional Education Opportunity

More than 500 chaplains and other health care professionals have successfully completed this unique online Certificate program. Every class so far has been sold out. The opportunity to attend this highly-rated course starting July 15th should not be missed.

Learn more here.

Here's typical praise from a satisfied student:

             "I have learned more than I could have imagined."

This course is provided jointly by two leaders in their fields - the California State University Institute for Palliative Care and HealthCare Chaplaincy Network.

Students can earn Continuing Education Hours and get valuable training starting in July. This is the second to the last time the Palliative Care Chaplaincy Specialty Certificate program will be held until 2016. 

Start the learning here. 

PS. If you know someone who could benefit from this course, please forward this to them.  Thank you..


Call for Proposals

HealthCare Chaplaincy Network seeks proposals for 90-minute workshops for its 3rd Annual Caring for the Human Spirit® Global Conference April 11-13, 2016 in
San Diego, California.

Building on the successful 2014 and 2015 conferences, described by participants as "transformative for the field," the conference will be devoted to the presentation and discussion of best practices and latest data on the clinical, educational, research and advocacy aspects of integrating spiritual care in health care.

To apply to be a workshop presenter, please complete the form at this link by Wednesday, June 30. Workshops will be selected and announced by Wednesday, July 15.

All workshops should be aimed at the advanced practitioner/researcher and should maximize dialogue with participants. Preference will be given to multidisciplinary teams.

See the 2015 conference workshop topics here and the 2015 conference faculty here.

If you have any questions, please contact us at events@healthcarechaplaincy.org and write in the subject line: Workshop Proposals.