In January 2013, I was fortunate enough to not only to attend C-TAC (the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care)‘s National Summit, but to also present my video piece, A Biker’s Heart, featuring the incredible true story (from Last Wish) of Bill and his wife and caregiver Nancy, as they fought against all odds to combat Bill’s devastating heart disease. When I originally told Bill his story was going to be displayed and honored at a National Summit in Washington, DC, his response was simply “Maybe it will do some good”.
During the Summit, I listened to a bipartisan panel of three senators, Senator Isakson, Senator Warner and Senator Whitehouse, discuss the urgent need for awareness, reform and legislation surrounding the realm of advanced care planning and end of life care in the US.
Just six months later, Senators Isakson and Warner have reintroduced the Care Planning Act which is designed to help Americans make informed choices about their health care.
The term “patient centered care” is ubiquitous in end-of-life, advanced care planning and palliative care circles. It is a highly sought after healthcare model that is highly lauded in social media and by many clinicians and advocates.
However, in my experience, patient center care is something clinicians and patients yearn for, yet seldom achieve, for various reasons, including lack of time and resources. To truly achieve patient centered care, physicians need to do more than just ‘talk about it’ as a gold standard. Yet, it seems many, if not most, physicians are unable to practice what they preach due to the unfortunate limitations that plague implementation of most good ideas: time and money. One of its many important facets is that the Care Planning Act establishes reimbursement for physicians who practice the gold standard of patient centered care with interdisciplinary health care teams.
Even more exciting from my viewpoint as a practicing intensive care physician and end of life researcher, is that the Act charges HHS to develop quality metrics that will actually measure and hopefully assure congruence with a patients’ stated preference. For me, this idea is of monumental importance.
Let’s backtrack for a moment to the Patient Self Determination Act of 1990 which mandated that hospitals receiving Medicare reimbursement document a patients’ advance directives upon admission, give the patient information regarding advance directives or allow them to decline. This manifested as checkboxes that admission clerks complete as patients are being wheeled into emergency rooms- or as one page in a stack of admission paperwork completed by patients as they are admitted to the hospital. Seldom does this paperwork result in a candid discussion between patients, families and/or their physicians. Simply put, the PSDA did not improve the quality of end of life care in this regard. If true quality metrics were to be developed, then the Care Planning Act of 2013 has a hope of making a difference.
- To read the press release about the Bipartison Care Planning Act, click here.
- To read the NHPCO’s letter of Support from Dr. Schumacher, click here.
- For a summary of the CTAC National Summit, click here.
- To view A Biker’s Heart from the CTAC National Summit, click here.