April 16 has been designated National Healthcare Decisions Day to educate and empower healthcare providers and the public about the importance of advance care planning. There is a role for health information exchanges. For instance, Great Lakes Health Connect (GLHC) in Grand Rapids, Mich., has partnered with several organizations to add advanced directives to its health information exchange registry.
The goal of advance care planning to ensure that patients receive care aligned with their personal goals, values, and preferences during times when the individual is unable to make decisions on his/her own. Michigan hospitals, physicians, and advocacy organizations are increasingly assigning a patient care advocate to patients, assisting patients in creating advanced directives, and educating them about the benefits of sharing these documents within the GLHC repository for access by other network participants statewide.
“Housing advanced care plans within the GLHC registry helps safeguard patient’s wishes and assures that the patient receives high-quality healthcare even when they cannot speak for themselves,” said Doug Dietzman, nonprofit GLHC’s executive director, in a prepared statement. “It guarantees that patient preferences remain at the center of the healthcare decision-making process.”
Making Choices Michigan, a nonprofit, community collaborative, provides free advanced care planning to West Michigan residents. Facilitators meet with individuals to help identify and document personal, basic goals should life-sustaining treatment be necessary even though the person is unlikely to recover. The facilitators assist patients in choosing a patient advocate and facilitate the free upload of documents to the GLHC registry.
Spectrum Health’s Next Steps program focuses on educating patients about the importance of advanced care planning as part of the patient’s overall care and treatment plan. Patients receiving cardiac care, cancer care and dialysis have been the primary focus for care planning conversations with additional efforts being concentrated on inpatient medical floors.
Healthcare providers across Michigan are focusing resources and efforts on informing patients about the benefits of having an advanced care plan on file and how having their documents uploaded to a statewide registry makes their wishes readily accessible. This is another example of how healthcare technology directly and positively impacts patient care.