Advance Care Plans (ACP) Are an Essential Part of Your Healthcare Plan
America Celebrates National Healthcare Decisions Day April 16
(DALLAS, TX) – April 12, 2022 -- ADVault, the nation’s leader in digital advance care planning (ACP), is calling on consumers and caregivers alike to commemorate National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16 by making sure ACP documents are in place and readily accessible so patient voices can be heard even when patients are unable to speak for themselves.
“Having an ACP document in place and easily accessible greatly increases the likelihood that the care delivered – or not delivered – will align with a patient’s wishes, values and priorities,” says ADVault CEO Scott Brown. “ACP documents benefit not only the patients themselves but family members and the entire healthcare ecosystem by removing some of the guesswork as to what the patient wants and doesn’t want.”
Created in 2008 and today operated under the National Institute of Health and the Conversation Project, National Healthcare Decisions Day exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. Brown says such education is critical to dispel the misconception that ACP documents are only for seniors or those who have a terminal illness or a debilitating disease.
“Nobody can predict the future, and emergencies can happen at any time, potentially leaving you too injured or ill to communicate medical treatment decisions,” says Brown. “Everyone needs to have a plan in place reflecting their personal wishes regarding the medical treatments and interventions they would or wouldn’t want in an emergency. Fortunately, tools exist today for patients, the healthcare providers who care for them, and even health plans and government agencies who pay for healthcare services, to make that easier than ever.”
Consumers can easily create a digital ACP document or upload a living will or other advance directive they already have by going to mydirectives.com, a free service that guides them through the process. MyDirectives securely stores ACP documents (even an audio or video file) and portable medical orders like DNR orders and POLST forms, then makes them available to healthcare providers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.
“At a time where health inequities still exist in our society, especially among communities of color, ACP documents are the ultimate empowerment of the individual by giving everyone the opportunity to express their personal preferences concerning location of care, life-sustaining treatments, CPR, organ donation and medical treatment goals,” says Maria Moen, ADVault’s Senior Vice President of Innovation & External Affairs.
Moen says healthcare providers can play a vital role in this process by using National Healthcare Decisions Day as an opportunity to assist in the development of ACP documents with their patients while also ensuring these documents are accessible when seconds count and minutes matter. In particular, providers in long-term care, skilled nursing homes, home health/hospice, and chronic care management play a critical role in understanding a patient’s changing physical or mental state, which makes them uniquely positioned “to have important, compassionate discussions with their patients regarding end-of-life care.”
An increasing number of professional caregivers, chronic care management companies, and palliative care organizations have turned to digital ACP tools to document these discussions and ensure that such documents are accessible beyond the current care setting to the broader healthcare delivery system. ADVault’s MyDirectives for Clinicians™ is a low-cost solution that uses an intuitive Q&A format to guide conversations, document treatment choices, and designate a healthcare agent or proxy. Caregivers can also help patients upload existing documents they may already have. Once completed, the ACP documents and portable medical orders are securely stored in ADVault’s registry and repository and are readily accessible through existing electronic health record systems across all points of care.
From a public policy perspective, Brown would like to see National Healthcare Decisions Day serve as the impetus for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to require Medicare Advantage Plans to offer ACP services to all of their members. “Knowing that plan members have documented their goals of care and stored them where they can be securely and seamlessly accessed in an emergency is vital to ensuring that the care delivery respects and honors the individuals these Medicare Advantage plans are dedicated to serving. Clarifying what the person wants and doesn’t want leads to more personalized medical care and has also shown to decrease avoidable and unwanted costly hospitalizations and undesired medical interventions.”