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Health Care Industry Should Prepare for End-of-life Talks

Posted on 02/15/2013

Boston Business Journal: Making certain that health systems respect and deliver on people’s preferences for end-of-life care will clearly be a tall order, given the gap between what Americans say they want and the current reality. There is a need for this now, as growing statistical evidence and data indicate: Seventy percent of people in Massachusetts want to die at home, but a similar percentage actually die in institutions.

As difficult as it may be to launch end-of-life conversations across America, it may be even more challenging to make the provider and health care community “conversation ready.” Health care systems will have to commit to documenting and storing end-of-life “wishes” consistently in the same place, such as an electronic health record. “Conversation ready” health care organizations will need to improve the processes that can help transform their culture. Several health systems have made larger strides toward becoming “conversation ready.”

Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has taken the lead in engaging patients and families in end-of-life conversations and delivering on their stated preferences, for example. And more than a dozen other organizations have pledged to become “conversation ready” through an initiative of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

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