Empowering Patients Through End-of-Life Care

Feb 29, 2020

By: Aaron Sheedy, co-founder and COO, Xealth

When most people think digital health, apps and wearables instantly come to mind. These are certainly part of it, but there is a more fundamental role digital can play in meeting outcomes goals. Digital health can offer greater impact by building on a patient’s relationship with their doctor, delivering education materials and empowering them to make important decisions in a time and place that is most comforting.

One example of how digital health is empowering patients is through the work Xealth is doing with the Institute for Human Caring, part of Providence St. Joseph’s Health (PSJH). Patients want care through the end of life that aligns with their personal values and preferences. This leads to a necessary conversation with one’s doctor before a situation arises that leaves a patient unable to communicate wishes for themselves, making an advance directive a crucial element of care. Unfortunately, these discussions are difficult and being pushed off to the proverbial “better time.”

Through its Institute for Human Caring, PSJH has been spearheading an effort to foster care through end of life discussions and increasing the number of patients with advance directives on file. This is accomplished through patient education, automation, workflow considerations, and analytics showing impact. Certain PSJH patients automatically receive an e-mail seven days before their annual wellness appointment that contains an appointment reminder, an educational video and downloadable advance directive form.

Patient engagement with advance care materials has been positive with 65% of patients opening the email and 35% downloading the advance directive. To date, PSJH has seen 6 times the volume of advance directives filed, and this program continues to expand.

On Wednesday, March 11, Dr. Matthew Gonzales and I will discuss this program in our HIMSS session, titled “End-of-Life Care: Helping Patients Make Tough Decisions.” This session will address how video decision-aids can improve the delivery of whole person care, identify patients for receiving information in advance of their appointment, discuss strategies for electronic communication outreach to increase and drive engagement, and evaluate communication methods and materials that are most effective.

Feel free to also visit us at HIMSS in the PSJH booth, #1585, to learn more about how we are teaming up to help empower patients through more informed conversations.