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Universal Advance Care Planning: A Model for Health Plans

Monday, January 11, 2021

Few things in life are universally beneficial — advance care planning (ACP) is one of them. 

Whether you are in perfect health or managing a serious illness, making informed, empowered care decisions before a serious health event occurs provides valuable peace of mind and ensures you receive care that truly aligns with your goals. Additionally, participating in ACP removes the burden of decision-making from your loved ones during a medical emergency, eliminating unnecessary stress and conflict when it matters most. 

Despite these universal benefits, achieving universal ACP participation has proven challenging thus far. In the current healthcare model, physicians are often responsible for initiating care planning conversations. However, recent Medicare data shows that only 2.8% of patients actually have a care planning conversation with their physician. 

Health plans are in a unique position to close this gap by offering universal advance care planning services to their members. In doing so, health plans and their members enjoy numerous benefits, including:

In this article, we’ll explore how health plans can adopt a universal ACP model that provides lasting returns for both members and the bottom line. 

Creating a scalable model for ACP

When deciding how best to roll out universal ACP services, health plans should consider why this goal has been so difficult to achieve in the past. Physicians have cited numerous barriers to effectively delivering widespread ACP, including:

If health plans were to attempt to build an internal program for universal ACP, they would likely run into many of the same barriers — but this isn’t their only option. A third-party ACP partner can remove these barriers and provide instant access to scalable ACP resources without the need for ongoing in-house program maintenance. 

The right partner should provide tailored ACP solutions for each segment of your health plan’s overall member population, ensuring the right people have access to the right level of support throughout their entire care journey. For example, Iris has designed multiple solutions that can address the varying needs of healthy, seriously ill and acutely ill individuals, providing a consistent standard of ACP across your entire population.

Universal ACP with Iris

The truth is, only a small fraction of your member population has a serious illness that requires one-on-one advance care planning with a professional. Iris Premier was designed to support these members with in-depth care planning from our trained experts — but what about the rest of your population? 

For members that are otherwise healthy, advance care planning is still important. To help support these individuals in planning for future medical care, we have designed Iris Empower. This online, self-guided ACP platform is adapted from the same technology that our ACP experts use. The platform walks members through their various care options step-by-step, helping them generate advance directives and other supplementary documentation unique to the Iris process. 

If any of these members are later diagnosed with a serious illness, they can seamlessly transition into Iris Premier services, having already laid the groundwork for their in-depth care plans. This seamless ecosystem of ACP services maximizes program ROI and provides a consistent, industry-leading standard for ACP within your member population.

By providing universal access to ACP with Iris Empower, your health plan can differentiate itself from competitors and foster a more proactive care experience for your members. And with demand for ACP increasing 5 fold in 2020 due to COVID-19, now is the perfect time to support your members in planning ahead for their care. To learn more about how your health plan can offer universal advance care planning with Iris, get in touch with us today


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