Rohit Singh, MD, Contributes to Our Understanding of Palliative Care Utilization

July 3, 2024 by Katelyn Queen, PhD

Rohit Singh, M.D.

Rohit Singh, M.D., recently attended the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, where he presented his work on palliative care utilization in cancer patients with brain metastases. The ASCO annual meeting is the largest and one of the most prestigious oncology conferences in the world and is attended by around 50,000 people. The conference brings together oncologists, researchers, and healthcare professionals to discuss the latest developments in oncology care. This year the conference was held in Chicago from May 31st to June 4th.

Singh presented findings on a real-world quality analysis of palliative care utilization in patients with brain metastases. Palliative care is a medical care approach that focuses on providing advanced holistic care to improve quality of life through relief from symptoms and stress and focuses on prioritizing patients’ goals. While palliative care is often associated with end-of-life, the approach is widely applied to patients with complex illnesses and is recommended for all patients with metastatic cancer. In the study presented by Singh at ASCO, the research team assessed 309 patients with brain metastases. They found that around 45% of patients were not seen by palliative care. There was no difference in survival among those seen by palliative care and those not seen, indicating that palliative care does not negatively impact survival. Patients seen by palliative care had higher completion rates of advance directives and hospice care, which serve as a proxy for quality of life and lessen the burden on patients and their caregivers. This work emphasizes the pivotal contribution of palliative care in facilitating informed decision-making and optimizing end-of-life experiences for patients and their families. In addition, it spotlights the imperative for healthcare systems and policymakers to foster early integration of palliative care into the care continuum for patients with advanced cancer. 

Singh’s work fit well with this year’s conference theme “The Art and Science of Cancer Care: From Comfort to Cure”, with many studies emphasizing the need for holistic care and involvement of patient advocates in every aspect of the care continuum. Future work on this project will focus on identifying and overcoming barriers that limit integration of palliative care, with an overall goal of developing tailored care models that embed palliative care into existing care pathways.  

After completion of his fellowship, Singh will be joining the UVM Department of Medicine as a Medical Oncologist, with a focus on lung and skin cancers. As a Medical Oncologist, Singh hopes to increase patient access to palliative care through implementation of a Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle. As part of this cycle, a multidisciplinary team will assess the current palliative care integration status and identify specific barriers to access. They will then design interventions tailored to address these barriers, such as provider education sessions and streamlined referral processes. The success of these initiatives will be monitored, and the results will be used to refine the interventions and implementation strategies. This iterative approach will ensure continuous improvement and foster a culture of proactive palliative care integration, ultimately enhancing the quality of care for patients facing advanced cancer diagnoses. With a deep-seated desire to significantly impact the lives of patients battling cancer, Singh looks forward to contributing to the mission of the Cancer Center through clinical care and research and hopes to be part of the team that increases access to clinical trials by bringing them to the rural areas of the Cancer Center’s catchment area. 

2024_06_CHE_Singh_Sitefinity_extraTop: Rohit Singh, M.D., stands in front of posters he presented at ASCO. Bottom: Rohit Singh, M.D., stands with the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.