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Three Reasons to Engage Patients in End of Life Conversations

Posted on 03/06/2013

iTriage: The Center to Advance Palliative Care notes that hospitals with palliative care programs (of which end of life conversations form an integral component) enjoy lower costs, since patients are transitioned to appropriate levels of care (reducing length of stay, especially in the ICU). Proactive care plans expedite treatment, since healthcare teams follow an agreed-upon care approach. Palliative care programs also encourage better use of daily resources by healthcare teams who avoid costs incurred from the ordering of unnecessary drugs and tests.

For providers who wish to learn more about how they can engage their patients in end of life conversations, Dr. McCannon suggests they start by having end of life conversations wit their own loved ones. “The Conversation Project offers a free starter kit that can help you gather your thoughts. Then you can share this starter kit with your patients. The hope is that it might enable an even richer first conversation.”

“People are motivated by stories, not numbers,” said Dr. McCannon. “On behalf of The Conversation project, I’d encourage medical professionals to share stories of patients and providers who engage in meaningful discussions about end of life care. The Conversation Project’s website is one way to share stories, but it’s also important to share these stories in the community, among colleagues. Not only will it encourage others to have the conversation, both inside and outside of the healthcare system, but it also helps preserve the love and joy that brings most people into the caring professions in the first place.”

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