The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School and the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC) today announced a new collaboration, The Project on Advanced Care and Health Policy.

The initiative is prompted by the fact that current health law policy and regulation, developed largely in a fee-for-service environment with siloed providers, creates barriers that may impede widespread adoption of improved models of care for those with advanced illness. The Project will seek to address this problem through policy and research projects that will identify and analyze these barriers, and propose policy solutions that promote development and growth of successful programs. This may entail developing proposed regulatory approaches for the advanced care delivery model that could be adopted by policymakers at the state and federal levels, as well as exploration of potential payment methodologies for this model of care.

The project is led by I. Glenn Cohen, faculty director of the Petrie-Flom Center and Professor at Harvard Law School, Holly Fernandez Lynch, executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center and faculty at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics, Tom Koutsoumpas, co-founder and co-chair of C-TAC, and Mark Sterling, chief strategy officer at C-TAC.

Sterling will also serve as the inaugural senior fellow in Advanced Care and Health Policy, responsible for advancing the work of the Project, developing a robust policy and research agenda, planning public events, and serving as a resource to interested members of the Harvard community. He has more than 35 years of experience in health care law and policy, including serving as partner at Hogan Lovells (where he remains Of Counsel), as general counsel and chief strategy officer of a leading health care services organization providing end-of-life care, and as a member of nonprofit Boards of Directors serving frail elderly and terminally ill individuals. He also recently completed a Senior Fellowship at Harvard University’s Advanced Leadership Initiative.

“Most Americans eventually will face advanced illness, rendering them at higher risk for unnecessary hospitalizations, unwanted treatment, adverse drug reactions, and conflicting medical advice,” said Koutsoumpas.

Sterling said: “They confront a fragmented, chaotic system that is poorly equipped to provide the care they need, leaving them to fend for themselves – this also results in high healthcare costs for families.”

Cohen added: “There is growing recognition of this systemic problem, from both policy and ethical perspectives. This is not the sort of experience that anyone wants for patients, and legal and policy tools are needed to address it.”

“We are thrilled to leverage the interdisciplinary strengths of the Petrie-Flom Center and the expertise of C-TAC to develop practical solutions to a multi-factorial health policy problem that affects all of us,” said Lynch. “Mark Sterling has exactly the right combination of experience, enthusiasm, and collaborative spirit needed to launch this Project as a tool to effectuate real change.”

In addition to the Senior Fellowship, The Project on Advanced Care and Health Policy will host public symposia and events, and organize a number of more specific research initiatives aimed at policy adoption of an advanced care model. Under this model, personal values drive treatment decisions, a customized blend of palliative and curative care can be provided, interdisciplinary teams coordinate care and provide support across settings, and the focus of care typically moves from the hospital to the home and community.