“I’d like to talk to you about decisions you might have to make in the future if you become very sick.”
Thus begins a video designed to make end-of-life care planning easier. It is one of nearly 300 decision aids now available for Aetna members and their families as part of a new pilot program to help bridge these difficult discussions.
“This is a very personal conversation,” said Vinnette Perry, director of Clinical Health Services for Aetna. “There’s fear of the unknown. We don’t always talk about how we want to die, and we don’t necessarily want to talk about a loved one dying.”
The pilot program, in collaboration with the nonprofit organization Advanced Care Planning Decisions (ACP Decisions), leverages their comprehensive video library to help patients and their families make the most informed medical choices possible.
Meeting members where they are
Aetna Medicare nurse case managers, who routinely work with members about end-of-life decision making, know that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Each member faces unique challenges and has unique needs. For example, Perry shared a recent example involving a 77-year-old member with advanced heart failure who was overcome with emotion upon connecting with his case manager; not because of a fear of death, but because he was moved that someone cared. The conversation that began that day resulted in his decision to move across the country to be closer to family.