On April 16, Kaiser Permanente will join other organizations in observing the sixth annual National Healthcare Decisions Day. The annual observance exists to inspire, educate and empower people about the importance of advance care planning in health care, and to take action to start the conversation.
“Having a discussion is easier than most people think, but many of us need a little reminder to do so,” said Jed Weissberg, MD, senior vice president for Hospitals, Quality and Care Delivery. “By joining Americans across the country in making your future health care decisions known to family, friends and your providers, you can help Kaiser Permanente lead the nation in providing patient-centered care.”
Advance care planning begins with a conversation. All adults regardless of age can benefit from thinking about and discussing what their own health care choices would be in the event of a serious health crisis. One study found that eight out of 10 people say it is “very” or “somewhat” important to write down end-of-life wishes, but only 23 percent actually have written instructions. Unless these preferences are documented, a health care team or the patient’s family may not know what to do.
“We shouldn’t paralyze ourselves by trying to figure out all the answers,” said Daniel Johnson, MD, FAAHPM, national physician lead for palliative care at Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute, and director of palliative care innovations and development for Kaiser Permanente’s Colorado region. “Instead, patients and families have taught me to start from a place of curiosity — a reflective space where we can explore our values, hopes and fears with those whom we love and trust. In deepening our understanding of one another, we lay the foundation for truly informed medical decision making.”
On this National Healthcare Decisions Day, Kaiser Permanente encourages everyone to begin this important conversation with their families and, once decisions are made, to take the next step in filling out an advance directive.
Steps to consider:
- Think about personal preferences. What medical treatments are important or preferred? What is meaningful to you?
- Determine a surrogate decision maker. In the event you can’t speak for yourself, who can you trust to honor and make medical decisions?
- Have the conversation with a surrogate decision maker. Share these decisions with others such as a doctor, family members and close friends.
- Document health care decisions with an advance directive. Give copies to a surrogate decision maker and a doctor.
- Review the advance directive regularly.