Patients who have conversations with their clinicians about their values, goals, and wishes are more likely to receive the care they want, avoid unnecessary treatments, and report better quality of life. Our research also shows patients reporting better mental health outcomes with lower rates of anxiety and depression. In addition, our research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute demonstrated that with our program, patients have these important conversations earlier in the course of their illness, so they have the opportunity to fulfill their wishes and make informed choices about their care.
Clinicians develop a valuable new set of skills and understanding that are not taught in medical school, so they can have these important conversations effectively and with confidence. And our system-level tools support clinicians in providing better care by giving them the ability to document conversations with their patients in the electronic health record and track changes in their patient’s goals over time.
Health systems gain reliable tools and protocols for identifying the right patients, asking them the right questions, and following up within the right time frames. They also gain access to Aria, an exclusive digital platform that provides robust resources, as well as an online community of fellow systems implementing the program to share best practices and lessons learned with the Serious Illness Care Program. All of this adds up to an improved health system that integrates new standards, supports improved clinical care, and empowers patients.