UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital
Country: United States
Rapid Response to Healthcare Decision Maker Discussions and Documentation: A Dedicated Social Work Intervention during COVID-19
The rapid onslaught of the pandemic made it impossible for many patients to make decisions about their treatment preferences. To address this gap, the University of Colorado Hospital and School of Medicine collaborated with social workers to engage patients in advance care planning (ACP).
Under this initiative, social workers assisted healthcare professionals in COVID units to help patients make decisions about their treatment preferences. The goal of the project was to increase the number of patients with a medical durable power of attorney (MDPOA), which empowers a designated person to make decisions about a patient’s health care in the event of a medical emergency.
In the first month of the COVID surge, a total of 1636 MDPOAs were completed by patients facilitated through ACP conversations with social workers. The percentage of hospitalized patients with completed MDPOA documents increased significantly from 25% to 40% in the first month of the initiative. This improvement has been sustained since the initial COVID surge.
Although initiating ACP discussions and MDPOA completion increased the workload of social workers, they embraced the challenge realizing the impact of promoting goal-concordant care and lifting the voices of vulnerable patients during the pandemic. This initiative models the meaningful partnership between patients and healthcare providers reflective of UCHealth’s core values.