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Palliative and Supportive Care

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What is Palliative Care, Palliative Medicine, Supportive Care and Supportive Medicine?

While this service line has several common names, Memorial Hermann Health System typically refers to this area of care as Supportive Medicine.

Supportive medicine is an interdisciplinary care team focused on improving the quality of life for patients and their families by reducing the physical and emotional burdens of people living with serious illness. In addition, supportive medicine helps address the psychosocial and spiritual needs of patients and their family members.

The Supportive Medicine team includes the following:

  • Nurse practitioners, nurses and physicians who have received special training to manage pain and symptoms caused by serious illness. They help patients and their family members with medical decision-making and the process of different treatments.
  • Social workers assess the patients, provide counseling and education on coping, and connect them with necessary resources.
  • Chaplains offer spiritual care and emotional support for patients and families, including assistance with advance care planning and conversations regarding end-of-life.

Why choose supportive medicine for you or your family member?

While most physicians and nurses have a good understanding of symptom management, many patients experience multiple symptoms or a single difficult symptom that requires an interdisciplinary approach and specialized expertise. The Supportive Medicine interdisciplinary team includes physicians who are experienced in this specialized area of medicine and, through research, are pioneering new approaches to effective treatment.

By working closely with the patient’s primary care team, the Supportive Medicine team can often stabilize difficult symptoms and allow a patient to continue with his or her current treatment plan.

Is there an appropriate time to receive supportive medicine services? 

Patients can be referred to supportive medicine care at any time. A common misperception exists that palliative care is only offered for patients who are ending curative treatment.

Who pays for supportive medicine services?

  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • Most private insurances

Please have the patient’s insurance information available when you call so we can verify the insurance and inform you of the patient’s coverage. We are available 24/7 to support the patient and family members. Please call with any questions or concerns.