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Conference showcases success in advance care planning

Release Date: October 17, 2013
Contact: Lisa Hildebrand - 608.442.3765 lisa.hildebrand@wismed.org

MADISON — Nearly 150 participants and stakeholders in Honoring Choices Wisconsin gathered this week for the Sharing the Experience Conference, showcasing the progress made in advance care planning over the program’s first year.

Since March, more than 500 patients have discussed their future medical decisions, including end-of-life preferences, with facilitators trained through Honoring Choices Wisconsin. The conversations help patients understand their health care treatment options, appoint a health care agent, clarify goals, weigh options about the kind of care and treatment they would want or not want, and communicate their wishes to family, friends, clergy, physicians and others.

Honoring Choices Wisconsin is the Wisconsin Medical Society’s initiative to promote the benefits of and improve processes for advance care planning across the state, in health care settings and in the community. Tim Bartholow, MD, the Society’s chief medical officer, moderated the day-long event, during which team leaders and facilitators from the original pilot organizations shared their experiences and offered suggestions.

“This conference reaffirmed the significant need for conversations about what we want and what we do not want if we have advancing illness,” Dr. Bartholow said. “While doctors and medical professionals can provide advice about the progression of illness, each of us needs to consider our cultural background and spiritual beliefs with our families as we reflect on our health care wishes.”

Bud Hammes, PhD, and Linda Briggs, MS, MA, RN, of Respecting Choices® also reflected on their work with the organizations, and Briggs discussed and the implications of decision-making capacity for advance care planning facilitators. In addition, Mike Bernhagen, co-producer of Consider the Conversation: A Documentary on a Taboo Subject, shared a preview of his upcoming film, A Documentary on Unintended Consequences.

Nine additional organizations begin Honoring Choices Wisconsin training this fall with trial implementation scheduled for March 1, 2014. The new participants are ADORAY Hospice,
Agrace Hospice and Palliative Care, Aspirus, Baldwin Area Medical Center, Journal Communications, Inc., Mayo Clinic Health System, St. Croix Regional Medical Center, ThedaCare and Watertown Regional Medical Center.

The first participants continue to offer facilitated conversations and plan to expand Honoring Choices Wisconsin to other sites/groups in their organizations. They are Community Care, Inc., Milwaukee; Fort HealthCare in collaboration with Rainbow HospiceCare and the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Jefferson County, Fort Atkinson; Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, Madison; Meriter Health Services, Madison; ProHealth Care, Waukesha; and UW Health, Madison.

“Countless individuals and organizations have shown tremendous leadership, commitment and perseverance, and for that, we’re forever grateful,” Dr. Bartholow said. “Honoring Choices Wisconsin has succeeded far beyond what we imagined when we launched the initiative only one year ago.”

Through Honoring Choices Wisconsin, the Society serves as convener, coordinator and catalyst to build clinical pilot projects based on proven concepts, methodologies, training systems and materials, combined with outreach in communities across the state. The advance care planning facilitations are based on the Respecting Choices® First Steps® model, which was created at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse.

With more than 12,000 members dedicated to the best interests of their patients, the Wisconsin Medical Society is the largest association of medical doctors in the state and has been a trusted source for health policy leadership since 1841. For details, visit the Society’s website. For more information about Honoring Choices Wisconsin, click here.