Patient Experience Extends to End-of-Life Experience: How Health Systems Can Take the Lead and Empower Patients to Have It Their Way
Imagine a world where everyone has advance care planning documents — and they’re accessible on the cloud. Why not start with your own community?
// By L. Scott Brown //
Health care gets a lot of things right, and a hospital is an amazing place filled with good-hearted heroes doing heroic things every day. But there’s one thing hospitals have not done well, and it begins with acknowledging that no hospital can really embody the complete patient experience or claim to address the full health care continuum if it is derelict in one particular duty. I am talking about end-of-life (EOL) care and the importance of advance care planning (ACP).
Death and dying is a reality we are all going to face. So it is remarkable that end-of-life care isn’t as freely spoken about between providers and patients as it should be.
For some, such discussions are simply too difficult or uncomfortable to have. For others, despite the illness, age, or medical truth of a patient’s condition, addressing the reality of death and dying has wrongfully been considered a medical failure of sorts.
Because of this, we almost always turn to providing more care at the end of life and often keep patients alive through extraordinary means — including sometimes heroic measures — even though we know the outcome won’t change. Not only is a lot of money spent in this atmosphere, but often this “care” is not even what patients want as they weigh years of life vs. quality of life.
Hospitals — and the doctors, nurses, case managers, and others who practice and work there — have a unique opportunity to change this paradigm and dramatically impact the health care ecosystem by being proactive in having EOL discussions not only with their patients but with the community at large.