Team-Tested Practices
Two women, health care workers, posing together in an office

Medical assistants Marjie Cole and Anna Shekhovtsev, members of SEIU Local 49, are helping patients understand the importance of advance directives.

Empowering Patients to Choose End-of-Life Care

Advance directives help you tell your family and doctor what to do if something happens to you and you can’t speak for yourself.  Yet only 20 percent of radiation oncology patients at the Interstate Medical Offices in the Northwest had advance directives. Determined to make a difference, team members set a goal to increase completion rates by 50% within 3 months, from March to June 2020. After learning how to engage in conversation with patients about advance directives, unit-based team members developed a process to ensure regular discussion about the topic during office visits. Medical assistants documented the encounters by developing a “smart set” – a standardized phrase – to track advance directives in Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect. Their efforts paid off. Now 80% of patients in the department have advance directives.

Here's What Worked

  • Training staff and physicians about advance directives
  • Developing a “smart set,” a standardized phrase, to track advance directives in Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect
  • Creating a process for medical assistants to verify, update and offer information about advance directives to radiation cancer patients
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