National Healthcare Decisions Day — this year celebrated April 16-22 — is an excellent time to reflect on the increasing importance of advance care planning to the community and organizations. This year’s theme is “It Always Seems Too Early, Until It’s Too Late,” which is applicable both to the public and health care providers.
Growing evidence demonstrates that advance care planning is highly beneficial to patients, families, providers and communities. It gives patients and families the experience they want, eases the minds of family members during a very difficult period and prevents unwanted medical treatments. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recognized advance care planning as a public health issue, given its wide-reaching impact.
Honoring Choices© Pacific Northwest inspires conversations about the care people want at the end of life. The joint initiative between WSHA and the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) helps the public make informed choices and works with health care organizations to facilitate and document these discussions.
In its first year, the program partnered with 27 organizations and trained more than 130 facilitators, who collectively guided 464 conversations with individuals about their values, goals and preferences. The result: 38 percent of these individuals completed advance directives and 86 percent of these individuals’ conversations are documented in the EMR.
There is still a long way to go in achieving a culture in which everyone receives care that honors their personal values and goals at the end of life, but it is important to begin the process of determining how one wants to live. After all, it always seems too early – until it’s too late.
WSHA Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives
***If your organization would like to join the Honoring Choices PNW initiative, please email Honoring Choices Program Manager Bonnie Bizzell at firstname.lastname@example.org.***