Growth with Purpose

This blog post is part of series written by participants of the Scaling in Action© session at the 2014 Conference on Scaling Impact June 18-19. Scaling in Action features presentations from the nation’s leading nonprofits, each scaling their efforts to address critical urgent issues. Here, nonprofit CEOs share more about their plans for growth and the resources needed to fund their campaigns.

How can an organization dedicated to solving a national healthcare crisis develop a growth strategy that matches the scale of the problem to be solved? At CAPC, our answer is “growth with purpose,” which was the focus of my Scaling in Action session at this year’s Social Impact Exchange Conference. The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) is a national organization devoted to increasing access to quality palliative care for people facing serious illness and their families.  We do this through three strategies – building awareness and demand for palliative care, educating policymakers, and providing training and technical assistance to support new palliative care teams at medical facilities.

CAPC has a strong record of success — in the last 14 years, the number of hospital palliative care teams in the U.S. has more than tripled and now there are more than 2,000 hospitals serving millions of seriously ill patients and their families.

CAPC now has the opportunity to use its successful scaling strategies where most of the need for palliative care is still unmet — in the community — to people’s homes, nursing homes, office practices, and cancer centers, to ensure that high quality services are accessible throughout the continuum of care. However, the current business model – relying on philanthropic support alone — is inadequate.

The time is therefore right for CAPC to expand its funding strategy to include support from user-funded membership fees. This strategy will 1) further align service design with constituent needs; 2) create a business model that is more scalable (services can grow with user interest); and 3) build the secure platform that will be necessary to develop and disseminate the new “CAPC-Community” initiatives.

During my presentation, I focused on several key questions that drive CAPC’s strategy for growth with purpose. 

Why now?  Health care reform has stimulated tremendous interest in solutions that are high quality, patient centered and proven to be cost effective. Palliative care has high visibility as a practical solution that can be implemented with little risk.

Proposed and emerging payment changes are also pushing communities and health systems to work together to re-organize how and where care is delivered to improve the quality of care where people live so that patients no longer need to rely on 911 calls, ER visits, and hospitals to manage and get help with their chronic illnesses.

Health system leaders and new community players are turning to us for proven, efficient implementation support to ramp up their community-based palliative care initiatives.

What is our plan?   Our plan is to significantly increase our tangible value by adding new products and services that simplify adoption, improve consistency and help leaders ensure they are maximizing the impact of their growing investments in palliative care.  Many organizations are investing millions every year in palliative care services and that amount is growing. As their total investment in staff support grows, their need for effective management tools also grows.  And since there will never be enough palliative care specialists to meet the growing need in the U.S., CAPC is developing state-of-the-art online interactive eLearning courses on how to skillfully and safely manage pain and other symptoms, how to support beleaguered family caregivers, and how to communicate when communication matters most.

CAPC is currently building new and strengthened operational and clinical content for a range of services that can be rolled out within a pay-wall available to members only.  Enlisting the support of instructional design experts, for example, we have developed accessible, clear and scalable training platforms for our existing and new clinical and operational content.

In addition to these fundamental changes in content and delivery, we will continue our public awareness and policy contributions essential to assuring quality palliative care for all Americans with serious illness, and their families.

What is our desired outcome?  By 2017, we will have a stable and growing income stream from user fees that supports the majority of our technical assistance.  Philanthropy and grants will continue to support policy and public awareness activities, as well as new initiatives, such as the CAPC-Community Initiative. Our efforts will have created a sustainable platform for ongoing innovation and expansion of the depth and breadth of palliative care programs – so that families and patients can access the high quality care they need when they need it.


Dr. Diane E. Meier is Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), a national organization devoted to increasing access to quality palliative care in the United States.