While most individuals don’t consider advance care planning (ACP) until they become quite ill, it shouldn’t take a serious illness to begin thinking about future care and preferred treatment options. Planning ahead and having crucial conversations with family, friends, and caregivers may expand options when a medical emergency arises.
The main idea of ACP is to reflect an individual’s preferences, goals, and concerns to loved ones and care teams in order to promote positive outcomes for care and avoid treatment that is unnecessary or unwanted. In the event an individual becomes too ill to verbalize ideas for treatment options, advance care plans are there to do the following:
- Minimize the burden of decision making on family
- Reduce the likelihood of conflict between family and healthcare providers
- Minimize the likelihood of overtreatment
- Maximize the likelihood that medical care addresses goals and desires
It is during the ACP process that caregivers, family members, and advocates all get to better know and understand individual wishes and beliefs. This can help alleviate any concerns and expand ideas for treatment options and life sustaining interventions. It is also during this time of planning where healthcare experts can educate individuals and family members on what some treatments entail and clarify any misunderstandings or confusion regarding resuscitation, treatment options, duration and the like.
These conversations often open doors to additional treatment options that individuals may not have been aware of. Why is this important? It is important to understand what alternative options are available in any given situation and to document which of these options individuals are comfortable with exploring. This will alleviate any concerns family or caregivers might have in making these decisions once the time comes. Documentation can mitigate any unpleasantness between caregivers and loved ones when he or she offers up treatment plans that may be outside the realm of conventional treatment standards.
ACP discussion should includes these four steps:
- Thinking through relevant values and preferences
- Discussing those values and preferences with an advocate, close family members, and healthcare providers
- Documenting and distributing these preferences
- Reviewing preferences and update on a regular basis
Partnering with a third party vendor whose sole focus is on scaling access to ACP and palliative care is critical in the successful implementation of an ACP program. Iris takes ownership of the entire ACP process and champions the benefits of ACP to your members and physicians. We take the burden of having these conversations off of the providers and remove the barrier to having these discussions. Our team manages the entire ACP process including member identification, engagement, expert led ACP facilitations, documentation completion, and distribution to family and care teams. During initial and follow up conversations our facilitators can make palliative care referrals, we connect people to in-person palliative care based on symptoms requiring medical management, utilization patterns, or challenges in social determinants of health.
If you’re ready to explore an advance care planning partner, Iris is here to help you identify specific care planning solutions for low, medium, and high risk patient populations.