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Session Details

​April 6, 2017, 2:00 PM ET: Who's Your Health Care Proxy?

  • Kate DeBartolo, National Field Director, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and The Conversation Project (TCP)
  • Suzanne Salamon, MD, Associate Chief, Gerontology Division, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Ravi B. Parikh, MD, MPP, Resident in Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston)
  • Fiona McCaughan, RN, MS, Cambridge Health Alliance

None of us likes to imagine being unable able to speak for ourselves when it comes to our health care. But situations arise throughout our lives when we need a trusted person to communicate with doctors and nurses on our behalf. And, if we are facing care decisions near the end of life, a trusted proxy can play a crucial role ensuring our wishes are respected. So, does everyone have a documented health care proxy? In all likelihood, no, or not yet, which is why there are numerous efforts underway to close this gap. The Conversation Project, a five-year-old grassroots initiative based at IHI, has just published a new, free resource it believes can help: How to Choose a Health Care Proxy & How to Be a Health Care Proxy. We’re going to learn more about this latest proxy kit and the issues surrounding choosing a health care proxy on the April 6 WIHI: Who’s Your Health Care Proxy?

As many of you know, The Conversation Project is devoted to helping everyone talk about their wishes regarding end-of-life care with family members and loved ones. This includes designating someone, a “proxy,” to speak for you – to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to make them for yourself.

Health care has a big role to play. April 6 WIHI panelists Drs. Suzanne Salamon and Ravi Parikh are among a growing number of physicians who are encouraging their patients to consider what matters most to them when they’re ill; having a proxy who knows and will advocate for what matters adds to peace of mind. At the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), Nurse Manager Fiona McCaughan oversees efforts to increase the number of patients with completed health care proxy forms at each of CHA's primary care clinics. CHA teams are also working on how to integrate this information into the patient’s electronic medical record.

Finally, TCP Executive Director Harriet Warshaw will walk us through the group’s newest guide to choosing or serving as someone’s health care proxy. Among its features are helpful answers to questions that can hang people up, such as: What if I don’t want to pick a family member? What if I don’t have someone I would like to be my proxy? Or, What if I want to change my proxy?

We look forward to welcoming you to the April 6 WIHI. In addition to hearing from our panel, we hope you’ll tell us what you’re doing in your health care organization to help patients grow more accustomed to the idea and the process of choosing a health care proxy.