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About this IHI Virtual Expedition

Did you know that 80% of people surveyed say that if seriously ill, they would want to talk to their doctor about end-of-life care, yet only 18% actually have this conversation?[1]

Many institutions do not have systems to reliably engage with patients in order to:

  • Understand what is most important for their end-of-life care
  • Become stewards of this information
  • Record, access, and respect these wishes in a timely way

Becoming Conversation Ready is an effort to provide more patient-centered care by gaining an understanding of what matters most to patients when it comes to end-of-life care.

Structured around the aims of The Conversation Project — an initiative to ensure that every person's wishes for end-of-life care are expressed and respected — this virtual training teaches the five principles of being Conversation Ready.

What You'll Learn

At the end of this IHI Virtual Expedition, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate the vision and mission of The Conversation Project and different ways to approach end-of-life care conversations.
  • Describe strategies that have worked for Conversation Ready organizations to engage patients and families in discussions to understand what matters most to them at the end-of-life.
  • Explain ideas for reliably stewarding this information across the health care system, including strategies for working with electronic health records.
  • Teach ways to engage communities that help to activate the public in having these conversations in advance of a potential medical crisis.
  • Test methods to help staff engage in advance care planning discussions personally to exemplify it for their patients.
  • Reflect on one's own cultural and personal biases and how they might influence a conversation with a patient about his/her end-of-life care wishes
  • Describe opportunities within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reimbursement policies for advanced care planning conversations.

This IHI Virtual Expedition is approved for 6.5 continuing education credits for nurses, physicians, and pharmacists.


Session 1: The Conversation Project: Reaching People Where They Live, Work, and Pray
Date: Tuesday, July 16, 1:00 – 2:30 PM

Session 2: The Exemplify Principle in Action
Date: Tuesday, July 30, 1:00 – 2:00 PM 

Session 3: Connecting in a Culturally Respectful Manner
Date: Tuesday, August 6, 1:00 – 2:00 PM

Session 4: Engage ─ Moving from passive to proactive
Date: Tuesday, August 20, 1:00 – 2:00 PM

Session 5: Steward ─ Achieving the reliability of allergy information
Date: September 3, 1:00 – 2:00 PM

Session 6: CMS Reimbursement and Effective Communication at All Stages of Health
Date: September 17, 1:00 – 2:00 PM


Kelly-McCutcheon-Adams.jpgKelly McCutcheon Adams, MSW, LICSW, a Senior Director, has been at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement since 2004. She focuses primarily on critical care and end-of-life care. She is a medical social worker with experience in hospice, nursing home, sub-acute rehabilitation, emergency department, and ICU settings. Ms. McCutcheon Adams has also served as faculty for the Organ Donation Collaborative of the US Department of Health and Human Services and for the Gift of Life Institute. She now directs the Breakthrough Series (BTS) College at IHI to teach participants how to run BTS collaboratives.

Kate-Lally.jpgKate Lally, MD, FAAHPM, serves as an attending physician in Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and an Instructor at Harvard Medical School. In addition, she has served on the faculty of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement since 2013 in their work on The Conversation Project and Conversation Ready. As a result, she has developed and led a number of on-line and in-person educational initiatives for both national and international audiences. Prior to her role at Dana Farber, Dr. Lally served as Chief of Palliative care at Care New England health system in Rhode Island, where she developed a system-wide comprehensive, interdisciplinary palliative care program. As a result of her work, she was invited to testify before the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging and has received numerous awards including "Top Doc" in RI monthly, Providence Business News "40 under 40" and was named an "Inspiring Hospice and Palliative Medicine Leader Under 40" by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. She is a graduate of Yale School of Medicine and did her post-graduate training in Internal Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Lauge-Sokol-Hessner.jpgLauge Sokol-Hessner, MD, is a hospitalist, Associate Director of Inpatient Quality at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and Site Director for the Harvard Medical School Fellowship in Patient Safety and Quality in Boston. He cares for medically complex and seriously ill patients and coaches medical students and residents as they develop their communication skills. In his quality improvement role, Dr. Sokol-Hessner leads several projects, including Conversation Ready and the Practice of Respect at BIDMC. He worked as an attending physician at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle before moving to BIDMC and has also worked in southern Africa on multiple occasions. Dr. Sokol-Hessner completed medical school and residency at the University of Pennsylvania.


[1] Survey of Californians by the California HealthCare Foundation (2012) and Kaiser Family Foundation Serious Illness in Late Life Survey (2017)