Published on April 15, 2016

AllSpire Health Partners Participates in National Healthcare Decisions Day

Leading health care institutions come together to launch regional campaign to raise awareness about importance of advance care planning 

AllSpire Health Partners is launching a regional effort to promote the Your Life, Your Wishes campaign in recognition of National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) on Saturday, April 16. AllSpire Health Partners is an alliance of seven leading health care systems throughout the northeast raising awareness in their communities about the importance of advance care planning (ACP).

“AllSpire members are committed to providing excellent and affordable health care to the communities we serve.  Part of that commitment is making sure our patients are informed about their health care planning options, and that is why our members are coming together to launch the Your Life, Your Wishes campaign,” said Gregory Sorensen, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Reading Health System. “Too many people avoid having the important conversations about advance care planning, which leaves them unprepared to advocate effectively for each other’s health care wishes. It is critical that the individuals and families we serve are educated about their health care decision-making options and the importance of sharing their health goals, values and preferences with their loved ones and health care providers, preparing them now to be confident and knowledgeable surrogate decision makers in the future.” 

Polling shows that, while 82 percent of Americans believe in the importance of putting their health care preferences in writing, only 23 percent have followed through by executing advance directives.  Similarly, more than 90 percent of Americans agree with the importance of having a conversation with their loved ones about their care preferences in the event of future illness, injury or end of life, yet only 30 percent have actually made these thoughts or instructions known in advance.  Deprived of vital information about what matters most to people when they are unable to make decisions about their treatment or explain their wishes, families and providers experience uncertainty, stress and the anxiety of wondering whether the decisions they are making will enhance or diminish their loved one’s quality of life.

The Your Life, Your Wishes campaign is committed to educating people about advance care planning and encouraging them to communicate their health care wishes to one another well before decisions have to be made.  This year’s NHDD theme is “It Always Seems Too Early . . . Until It’s Too Late” and AllSpire Health Partners members are determined that their participation in this year’s outreach efforts will encourage more patients to talk with their health care providers about advance care planning as an integral part of routine health care.

“We realize that advance care planning is a sensitive subject matter and some individuals may be nervous or even afraid to talk with their family members about end-of-life care.  We want to make sure that our patients have all of the tools they need to start the conversation,” added Dr. Sorensen. “AllSpire is well-positioned to educate millions of individuals and families within the region about the importance of starting a conversation today about advance care planning. It is our hope that the Your Life, Your Wishes campaign will give more people an opportunity to consider their health care wishes and express those wishes to the providers and surrogate decision makers who will act on them.”

While conversations about advance care planning can be difficult, they are essential in helping patients and the people they trust feel more confident about future health care decisions.  Advance care planning begins with personal reflection about health goals, values and preferences, followed by multiple conversations with trusted others regarding critical medical situations that may arise in the future.  With these conversations as a foundation, individuals can create an advance directive that legally appoints a health care representative, and an alternate representative, and documents information that will provide guidance for future treatment and health care decision making.

The AllSpire Your Life, Your Wishes campaign focuses on the following important elements:

  • Advance care planning is not about death and dying.  It is about individuals taking control of their health care future.
  • Advance care planning is an integral part of complete health care throughout the entire cycle of life.
  • Advance care planning begins with the first of many conversations that
    • enable individuals to tell their providers, families and trusted others what really matters to them, and
    • enable providers to help patients understand the medical conditions they may experience.
  • Advance directives are legal documents that explain and preserve an individual’s goals, values and preferences so they can be communicated and honored when the individual cannot make or advocate for health care decisions. These documents can be tailored to individual needs.

As part of this system-wide initiative, AllSpire is launching YourLifeYourWishes.com, a new website devoted to providing the tools and resources individuals and families need to plan and share their health care wishes with the people who will be acting on their behalf.

National Healthcare Decisions Day exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. For more information about National Healthcare Decisions Day, please visit, NHDD.org.

About AllSpire Health Partners

AllSpire Health Partners is an alliance of seven hospital systems (totaling 25 hospitals) in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Its members encompass systems including nationally-ranked hospitals that are listed in the Top Ten in their respective states and more than 20 specialties ranked in the Top 50 in the nation, according to US News and World Report. The participating systems include:

  • Atlantic Health System (Morristown, N.J.)
  • Hackensack University Health Network (Hackensack, N.J.)
  • Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine (Lancaster, Pa.)
  • Lehigh Valley Health Network (Allentown, Pa.)
  • Meridian Health (Neptune, N.J.)
  • Reading Health System (Reading, Pa.)
  • WellSpan Health (York, Pa.)