We hope 2017 is off to a great start for you and your organization. Last year, we came together with the collective goal of ensuring everyone in Massachusetts receives health care that honors their goals, values, and preferences. We fielded a survey to understand consumer views on end-of-life care conversations, hosted a successful launch event, collaborated to make progress on your Coalition commitments, and built a website. Just as important, our combined efforts attracted public attention and demonstrated that we have the potential to promote real change. Looking to the year ahead, we have ambitious plans for more progress.
January 2017 Newsletter
Welcome to 2017: Coalition Year Two
April is Massachusetts Health Care Decisions Month
We have begun planning for a state-wide public awareness effort: Massachusetts Health Care Decisions Month. The initiative, led by our Coalition, will bring an expanded version of "National Healthcare Decisions Day" to the Commonwealth, and will be supported by a month-long communications campaign in April 2017.
Much of the Coalition’s work to date has been at the policy and program level—and we made progress with organizations and health professionals focused on serious illness care. Massachusetts Health Care Decisions Month will allow us to reach Massachusetts residents directly. Our awareness efforts have the potential to encourage people throughout the state to have advance care planning conversations with their loved ones and clinicians, and to name health care proxies.
We’re still planning, but we wanted to share these significant, preliminary developments:
- Governor Baker has expressed support for and interest in the work of the Coalition. Through the Executive Offices of Health and Human Services and Elder Affairs, we will keep the Governor apprised of our efforts and determine how he can support the campaign.
- We’re partnering with a strategic communications agency to create a compelling engagement strategy, which will include social media and public relations efforts. We’ll share more news soon in a series of special emails about how you can get involved in the campaign.
- On May 9th we will host our second annual summit at the John F. Kennedy Library. In addition to reporting on the awareness campaign, we will also unveil the results of our second research project, which will include qualitative insights into attitudes around end-of-life care conversations.
So, how can you help us jumpstart our awareness efforts?
As a first step, we’d like to learn more about any initiatives you have undertaken (or plan to pursue) to encourage conversations around advance directives. We want to leverage your efforts to help build momentum for the campaign, and to motivate others to take action. Please take a moment to email Richard Averbuch at Richard.Averbuch@bcbsma.com and share information about your activities. What we learn will help us plan for a successful campaign in April.
Celebrating 10 Years of National Health Care Decisions Day
Join us on February 15th for a free National Healthcare Decisions Day webinar as we celebrate 10 years of promoting advance care planning conversations across the country. We will be highlighting examples of the many great initiatives that participants have led over the years as part of the national movement. We will also share ideas about activities you can undertake as part of Healthcare Decisions Month.
Date: Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Time: 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. EST
Innovative Programs at UMass Memorial Medical Center
UMass Memorial Medical Center (UMass Memorial) is the clinical partner for UMass Medical School, and a trusted health care provider to residents of Central New England. It’s a noted innovator in integrating palliative care into treatment plans. Through its palliative care program, UMass Memorial is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for seriously ill patients through a focus on culturally sensitive excellence in clinical care, service, teaching, and research. The team is working to change perceptions of palliative care and to elevate the treatment option by spreading awareness of the medical center’s humanistic and compassionate care approach.
“Through our palliative care programs, we have the opportunity to ensure that patients facing serious illness have the option to select treatments that both improve their lives and provide comfort,” said Suzana K. E. Makowski, MD, MMM, Co-Chief of Palliative Care at UMass Memorial Health Care. “And we know that we’re not only improving the way patients feel, but in many instances we’re actually furthering the longevity of their life.” UMass Memorial has also seen success in increasing the volume of the completion of advance directives across its health system, using Internet-based tools and integration with electronic medical records (EMRs). With the support of UMass Memorial leadership, a group of clinical stakeholders across disciplines designed and developed a web-based advance care planning tool, complemented by a skills training program for clinicians involving role-playing with actors portraying patients Then, UMass Memorial clinicians engaged actual patients in advance care planning conversations and redesigned clinic workflows to accommodate these discussions, and integrated the tool into the EMR. “We’re so proud of the work we’ve done to make advance care planning a core component of the clinician-patient relationship,” said Jennifer Reidy, MD, MS, FAAHPM, Co-Chief of Palliative Care at UMass Memorial Health Care. “Through our pilot effort, we learned that transforming an entrenched culture while also creating systems to promote advance care planning requires rigor and a shared vision between administration and clinicians. We’re inspired by the results of our early efforts and are eager to continue to share updates on our progress with the Coalition.”
Coalition Leadership Announcements
We’re pleased to announce that Richard Averbuch has accepted a full-time position as Executive Director of the Coalition. Richard’s responsibilities will include the day-to-day direction and management of the Coalition as well as close collaboration with Anna Gosline, a steward of the Coalition since its inception, on program development, governance, partnerships, and fundraising.
Prior to his work with the Coalition, Richard served as the Chief Marketing Officer at Massachusetts General Hospital. His deep experience in health care communications also includes positions at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Massachusetts Hospital Association, and the Massachusetts Business Roundtable. He holds a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Anna is the Senior Director of Health Policy and Strategic Initiatives at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. She’ll continue to provide guidance and support and will remain actively engaged in the Coalition, collaborating with Richard on developing strategy, and leveraging her knowledge surrounding serious illness care and her long-standing relationships with health professionals. Anna previously served as the Director of Policy and Research at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, where she oversaw the Foundation’s policy and research project portfolio. She holds a master’s degree in health policy and management from the Harvard School of Public Health.
We’re fortunate to have Richard and Anna on board. Please join us in thanking them for their commitment to the Coalition.
Register Now: Second Annual Summit
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Boston, MA 02125