Identifying Palliative Care Champions to Promote High-Quality Care to Those with Serious Illness

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Leading medical authorities advocate for routine integration of palliative care for all major causes of death in the United States. With rapid growth and acceptance, the field of palliative care is tasked with addressing a compelling question of its time: "Who will deliver timely, evidence-based palliative care to all who should benefit?" The current number of palliative care specialists will not suffice to meet the needs of persons with serious illness. In 2010, initial estimates quantified the shortage at 6000 to 18 000 additional palliative care physicians needed to fully staff existing programs. Unfortunately, the predicted number of specialty physicians in 2030 will likely not be larger than the workforce in existence today. These findings result in a physician-to-serious-illness-person ratio of about 1:28 000 in 2030.