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New collaborative aims to improve communication between clinicians and patients with serious illness

BOSTON — Seven leading health systems from around the country have joined with Ariadne Labs, the Center to Advance Palliative Care and VitalTalk in a pioneering new collaborative to transform care for individuals facing serious illness.

The new Implementation Collaborative provides health systems with the roadmap, tools and support to bring Ariadne Labs’ innovative Serious Illness Care Program to patients around the country. The inaugural cohort of the Implementation Collaborative includes:

Supported by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Implementation Collaborative is led by a partnership between Ariadne Labs, CAPC and VitalTalk. Each partner brings to the collaborative unique expertise that together offers health systems the best evidence-based approach to care for seriously ill patients including:

    • Communication skills training by expert communications faculty from VitalTalk using the Serious Illness Care Conversation Guide developed at Ariadne Labs. The Conversation Guide enables clinicians to have meaningful conversations with patients and their families about their values, wishes and goals for care. The conversation prioritizes patient wishes for quality of life as defined by the patients.
    • Implementation strategies that equip health systems to integrate the Serious Illness Care program into the care they provide. The Implementation components include a system to identify patients who would benefit from a serious illness conversation, a prompt to remind clinicians to have the conversation, a monitoring system to ensure more, better and earlier conversations are happening, and a process to document the outcomes of the conversation in the electronic health record so decisions about medical treatment are guided by patient goals and priorities.

For several months, the health systems have been laying the groundwork for the new program within their organizations. The Implementation Collaborative formally kicks off in April 2018 when clinical and system leaders from the seven health systems come together with Ariadne Labs, VitalTalk and CAPC in Boston for a three-day implementation and communication skills training. The training integrates implementation principles and strategies from Ariadne Labs and communication approaches from Ariadne Labs and VitalTalk.

The second component of the program runs through December 2018 and focuses on helping health systems make lasting, systems-level change for better care. Ariadne Labs, VitalTalk and CAPC will provide:

  • Distance learning via webinars, virtual office hours, and individual coaching calls
  • A second face-to-face training to review progress and plans for systems-wide implementation and sustainability
  • Exclusive access to Aria, Ariadne Labs new digital implementation platform designed to support the Implementation Collaborative with tools, information and data sharing and reports

This summer, Implementation Collaborative leaders will begin selecting the second cohort, up to 20 more health systems.