Uneven Terrain: Mapping Palliative Care Need and Supply in California

Kathleen Kerr of Kerr Healthcare Analytics, J. Brian Cassel of the Virginia Commonwealth University, Michael W. Rabow of the University of California, San Francisco, Kate Meyers, and Josh Cothran (Visualization Design)

Data maps contrast the estimated need for palliative care with the uneven availability of hospital and community programs in California.

February 2015

This data visualization illustrates the estimated need for palliative care in each California county among patients in the last year of life. The maps show the number of palliative care programs (prevalence), the number of patients served annually (capacity), and the sufficiency of supply (need divided by capacity).

The data are as of October 2014 and will be updated over the next two years; program sponsors are asked to submit new information, revisions, and comments about their non-hospice palliative care services through these questionnaires: inpatient services and community-based programs.

Palliative care can help address the needs of seriously ill individuals and their families. In recent years the prevalence of hospital- and community-based specialist palliative care programs has increased dramatically, as payers, providers, and consumers have come to appreciate the benefits of such services. Still, palliative care is not available to many Californians due to a general shortage in supply and uneven distribution of services across the state. California law now requires Medi-Cal health plans to provide palliative care services.