Grand Rapids, MI – National Healthcare Decisions Day, April 16, has been established to inspire, educate, and empower healthcare providers and the public about the importance of advance care planning. Great Lakes Health Connect (GLHC) continues to expand the number of patient care documents and advanced directives in its health information exchange registry through collaborations with Michigan healthcare entities such as Making Choices Michigan and Spectrum Health’s Next Steps program.
Advance care planning involves the discussion and documentation of patients’ care preferences. The goal is to ensure that patients receive care aligned with their personal goals, values, and preferences during times when the individual is unable to make decisions on his/her own. Healthcare providers such as hospitals, physicians, and advocacy organizations are increasingly assigning a patient care advocate to patients, assisting patients in creating advanced directives, and educating them about the benefits of sharing these documents within the GLHC repository for access by other network participants statewide.
According to Doug Dietzman, Executive Director at Great Lakes Health Connect, “Housing advanced care plans within the GLHC registry helps safeguard patient’s wishes and assures that the patient receives high-quality healthcare even when they cannot speak for themselves. It guarantees that patient preferences remain at the center of the healthcare decision-making process.”
At Making Choices Michigan (MCM), a non-profit, community collaborative that provides FREE advanced care planning to West Michigan residents, First Steps® certified facilitators meet with individuals to help identify and document personal, basic goals should life-sustaining treatment be necessary even though the person is unlikely to recover. Additionally, facilitators assist patients in choosing a patient advocate and facilitate the free upload of documents to the GLHC registry.
According to Rose Seavolt, RN, BSN, CCP and Next Steps Org Faculty at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan, “As health care providers, we need to get to a point where our approach to care begins with the patient’s wishes. Individuals and providers need to understand the tremendous value of first, having a care plan and second, assuring that it is available wherever the patient shows up for services. The GLHC registry makes that happen.”
Spectrum Health’s Next Steps program focuses on educating patients about the importance of advanced care planning as part of the patient’s overall care and treatment plan. Patients receiving cardiac care, cancer care, or dialysis have been the primary focus for care planning conversations with additional efforts being concentrated on inpatient medical floors.
Healthcare providers across the state are focusing resources and efforts on informing patients about the benefits of having an advanced care plan on file and how having their documents uploaded to a statewide registry makes their wishes readily accessible. This is another example of how healthcare technology directly and positively impacts patient care.