New guidance can help doctors talk to patients about end-of-life care

Doctors who worry they are unprepared to counsel patients about end-of-life care now have some help.

The National Quality Partners (NQP) has created a new issue brief to help healthcare providers have conversations with patients about their preferences for end-of-life treatment.

Medicare will reimburse physicians and other providers for discussing advance care planning with their patients and families. However, studies show that nearly two-thirds of physicians say they are inadequately trained to counsel patients.

To help with that, NQP’s advanced illness care action team, which includes more than 25 patient advocates, physicians, hospital systems and other stakeholders, identified the most common concerns individuals have at the end of life. They include: purpose and connection, physical comfort, emotional and psychological well-being, family and caregiver support, financial security, and peaceful death and dying, the group said.

The issue brief examines how organizations have helped meet those needs. NQP also plans a webinar March 15 that will look at case studies of how physicians, nursing homes and home health agencies can integrate these patient preferences into their quality efforts.

Honoring the wishes of the patient remains the primary motivating factor for most physicians to have conversations with patients about advance care planning.