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UPMC and Beckwith Institute Join National Effort to Help Health Care Providers Honor Patients’ Wishes for End-of-Life Care

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UPMC and the Beckwith Institute for Innovation in Patient Care have joined four other pioneering health care organizations to support a new effort by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) to help health care providers receive and respect patients’ wishes about end-of-life care. The initiative is a critical companion to The Conversation Project, which launched nationwide last week.

The Conversation Project, a public campaign co-founded by Pulitzer Prize-winner Ellen Goodman, was developed with a simple and transformative goal: to have every person’s end-of-life wishes expressed and respected. It is critical that health care providers and organizations have the training and tools necessary to understand and respect what their patients want. IHI will work closely with UPMC, the Beckwith Institute and the four other sponsoring health care systems, in addition to prominent palliative care experts, to develop and communicate innovative ways to start these difficult conversations.

Organizations must be well-prepared to explore patients’ wishes and to record those end-of-life instructions in an easily accessible format. UPMC, supported by the Beckwith Institute, has committed to being “conversation ready” within one year by launching processes for providers to discuss and follow patients’ instructions for end-of-life care.

“UPMC is committed to leading the way in finding the most effective methods to ensure that patients and their health care providers have these important conversations about end-of-life care,” said Tami Minnier, chief quality officer for UPMC, recently ranked 10th in the nation on the Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. “Advance care planning ensures that doctors and families understand what patients want, even when those patients are unable to speak for themselves. Discussing end-of-life care is never easy, but making plans ahead of time can provide peace of mind for patients and their families. UPMC is proud to serve as a pioneer sponsor of The Conversation Ready initiative.”

The Beckwith Institute for Innovation in Patient Care encourages and funds creative ideas for improving patient care across UPMC, reducing variation in care, increasing efficiency and enhancing clinical leadership. It aims to spread evidence-based innovations globally, producing a broad impact on an evolving health care landscape.

UPMC already holds an annual Day of Conversation to encourage discussions about end-of-life care throughout the health care system and the community.  In addition, UPMC recently established a Palliative and Supportive Care Institute to develop palliative care programs at UPMC’s hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, as well as home care agencies. The institute also is working with UPMC’s Hillman Cancer Center to better integrate palliative care into cancer care. Along with its academic partner, the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC is a national leader in palliative care, focusing particularly on palliative care in the intensive care setting and on doctor-patient communications.

In addition to UPMC and the Beckwith Institute, four other organizations have joined the IHI initiative so far: Mercy Health, North Shore-LIJ Health System, Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Qulturum in the County Council of Jönköping, Sweden.