Hope and Promise for End-of-Life Care in 2022: January Note From the President and CEO
Jan 24, 2022 Kim Callinan
Although we will likely continue to see the lingering shadows of COVID-19 throughout the year, I fully anticipate and can already see the signs of a renewed sense of purpose and action.
As a result of the pandemic, we all are more fully aware of our own mortality and have had a painful glimpse into the unbearable limitations of our healthcare system.
Lawmakers and policymakers are beginning to see that our end-of-life care options are not just limited in scope but largely limited to the privileged. Many within our medical communities, faced with making decisions about life and death for their patients, are now on board with the need to transform how we view advance care planning and end-of-life care. There is a collective understanding that our healthcare system isn’t working and that we must bring it into the 21st century to more fully meet our end-of-life care needs.
At the same time, I see glimmers of change. Healthcare is not what it was two years ago, and for that I’m grateful. Some of the advances in end-of-life care we’ve seen in the past two years are likely here to stay:
- With a stronger understanding of the inevitability of death, more people are willing to engage in advance care planning.
- Telehealth is now a recognized and acceptable form of healthcare delivery, reducing risks for those who are medically vulnerable and increasing access for those who have been traditionally underserved.
- There is increased understanding of palliative care, and efforts are underway to educate and train providers and patients alike.
- There is greater recognition and less tolerance by policymakers, lawmakers, providers and healthcare systems of the many disparities that permeate end-of-life care and a collective movement to accelerate work that begins to address this issue.
There is an energy and momentum in the end-of-life care movement that is palpable. Our legislative session started in full force. Many lawmakers have a renewed sense of purpose in expanding end-of-life options and advancing medical aid in dying. We are building on our work over the last several years to create a profound shift from a system that has been largely paternalistic to one that seeks the patient's voice. We also are making tremendous progress advancing patient-directed care in the courts.
We have a long way to go, but I’m excited for what this new year will bring and look forward to working with you to bring greater choice and voice to the end-of-life care movement.