On February 22nd I had the great honor of hosting a day-long CIVHC Connect centered on serious illness. CIVHC has long worked in the palliative care, advance care planning, and care transitions spaces and this was a wonderful opportunity to bring our partners in these initiatives together to learn and share knowledge.

We kicked off the day with breakfast and an overview of projects in Colorado working to further consumers’ adoption of advance care planning. Many groups across the state are engaging people in their communities and educating them on the importance of documenting their wishes, not just for their own peace of mind, but also for that of their loved ones. You can find these groups on civhc.org in the Change Agent Gallery and on the Advance Care Planning page.

As a resource for the Medical Orders Scope of Treatment (MOST) form, CIVHC is acutely aware of the emotional and legal challenges that patients and families can face as they cope with serious illness. Next sessions of the day featured case studies of instances when legal matters overlapped with Advance Care Plans and offered solutions to how to avoid or mitigate these situations. We then had a lively discussion about how to initiate the Conversation with loved ones and the many subject matter experts in the room told stories about circumstances they have encountered and how they managed to navigate the troubled waters.

Then things got a bit theatrical. The Conversation Project Boulder County handily role-played two different scenarios between a mother, a daughter, and their care provider. In the first instance, Mom was ill and Daughter was unclear about her wishes. At the end of the scene, the group discussed ways to make the interaction between the three characters more useful and compassionate. During the replay of the scene, the actors incorporated the suggestions from the audience and demonstrated how to have a direct and simple conversation about advance care planning without emotions getting overheated.

The sessions after lunch focused on action underway across the nation and in Colorado to address the many concerns surrounding serious illness. Legislation to create a statewide registry for advance care planning was re-introduced in 2019 and to help inform the conversation, Vynca Health and CORHIO presented their experiences with EHR technology and creating registries. Vynca has created a registry tool, which health systems and states have used to ensure that advance care plans are accessible when needed.  CORHIO, as one of Colorado’s health information exchanges is poised to help with this process as facilitator of health information transfer and is working to ensure providers have the information they need to care for patients.  Both of these organizations shared valuable insight into how a registry could work if, or when, Colorado moves forward with the project.

Following the technology discussion, we got a briefing on additional bills in the Colorado Legislative session and how they may impact caregivers and patients. The day concluded with presentations from four projects in Colorado working to improve care transitions and reduce readmissions.

CIVHC is grateful for all who participated in CIVHC Connect: Caring and Preparing for Serious Illness; it was a powerful day full of important information. Slides from the presentations are available on our Event Resources page on civhc.org. If you are interested in joining our Advance Care Planning Workgroup or have other questions, please reach out to me at kdegerness@civhc.org.

By Kari Degerness, MBA, LNHA – CIVHC Director of Health Care Programs