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.

Palliative care is provided with other appropriate medical care and is not reserved only for patients at end of life. The goal of palliative care is to help the patient achieve the best possible quality of life.

Is There an Appropriate Time to Receive Supportive Medicine Services?

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

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.

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.

What Can I Expect from the Supportive Medicine Team?

Symptom Management

The team provides expertise in treating one or more symptoms related to chronic medical conditions, such as pain, fatigue, constipation, weight loss, weakness, shortness of breath or difficulty sleeping, as well as mental or emotional symptoms such as confusion, depression and anxiety.

Care Coordination

Caring for a patient’s serious illness often requires involving multiple medical specialties in the care plan. With the patient’s primary care physician (PCP) leading the care plan, the Supportive Medicine team helps coordinate smooth transitions of care.

Supportive Counseling

Palliative care specialists work hard to communicate clearly and compassionately. Our social workers, nurses and chaplains support our physicians in providing counseling services.

Advance Care Planning

Treatment outcomes can be unpredictable; therefore, the team offers assistance to patients and their families seeking information about coping with issues surrounding disease progression. The goal is to assist in making informed preparations. When appropriate, the team offers in-depth knowledge regarding end-of-life resources and assistance with finding and coordinating care with community services.

Family Support

Whether a patient is seeking a cure or desires balance while living with a chronic medical condition, the Supportive Medicine team offers additional support to patients and their families. Supportive medicine specialists work hard to communicate clearly and compassionately. Social workers, nurses and chaplains complement physicians by providing counseling and care services.

Make a Referral

A consultation request can be made by an affiliated physician on the medical staff at all our hospital locations. The physician will evaluate the patient for services.

New patient consultations are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Patients with an established Supportive Medicine team will have follow-ups available 24 hours per day, including appointments and phone calls.

Contact the Supportive Medicine team to set up a visit.

Office: (832) 644-6496

Fax: (832) 644-6499