May 29, 2018, 11:04 ET
RENTON, Wash. and IRVINE, Calif., May 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Recognizing that 70 percent of Americans spend their last days in hospitals or nursing homes without the ability to communicate their final wishes, Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH) – the nation's third-largest health system – is advancing changes in the way the end of life is treated. The health system is introducing innovative tools and services that ensure patients' wishes are respected and families are wholly comforted.
"End of life is a topic both health systems and patients don't typically want to discuss," says Ira Byock, M.D., founder and chief medical officer of Providence St. Joseph Health's Institute for Human Caring, which is leading efforts to helping patients, families and caregivers experience the best care possible, especially during life-limiting illness. "In caring for the whole person and the entire life experience, we are normalizing the conversation and taking on these initiatives to transform the way we care for those with serious illness through the end of life."
"Every year, thousands spend their last days in hospitals and ICUs suffering needlessly, subjected to overly aggressive, inevitably futile and expensive treatments," Dr. Byock says. "We can and must do better."
To help make the final days less difficult and more comfortable for families, PSJH is introducing several innovative tools:
- PSJH is offering a new advance directive online toolkit, available in multiple languages and tailored for each of the seven states where the health system operates. The free resource makes it simpler for people to make it known what type of care they'd want if they were unable to speak for themselves. The directives are stored and easily accessed in PSJH's electronic medical record system
- The health system provides a full view of a patient's goals for care through new customizations of its electronic health record system. Goals-of-care conversations and advance directives are highly visible to the treating physician at each PSJH facility. And, the system alerts doctors if ordered treatments go against a patient's requests.
- Simple fact-based videos and other resources are prescribed for patients and families to help them understand their medical conditions and options for care near the end of life.
- Physicians and staff are provided tools and extensive communication training to facilitate meaningful and compassionate conversations with patients and loved ones during one of life's most difficult times.
- Patients are actively engaged in shared decision-making to clarify achievable outcomes and goals for care prior to potentially burdensome treatments.
In working to change the conversation about end of life, PSJH also captures inspiring patient and family stories as part of its Hear Me Now series, a partnership with StoryCorps, which can be heard here. Read PSJH president and CEO Rod Hochman, M.D.'s blog about his parents' end-of-life care.
About Providence St. Joseph Health
Providence St. Joseph Health is committed to improving the health of the communities it serves, especially those who are poor and vulnerable. With 51 hospitals, 829 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing and many other health and educational services, the health system and its partners employ more than 111,000 caregivers (employees) serving communities across seven states – Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington. Formed in 2016, the Providence St. Joseph Health family includes the founding organizations, and in: Texas, Covenant Health and Covenant Medical Group; California, Facey Medical Group, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare; Washington, Kadlec Regional Medical Center, Pacific Medical Centers and Swedish Health Services.
SOURCE Providence St. Joseph Health
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