Project to improve storage, access and incorporation of advance care plans in a regional Australian hospital
Problem: Despite acknowledged benefits, the impact of advance care planning on usual care is inconsistent. Design: Quality improvement study. Setting: A Western Australian regional hospital. Key measures for improvement: This project aimed to create a system for storing, accessing and incorporating advance care planning documents in clinical care. Strategies for change: Interventions over 18 months addressed four areas: medical records processes for receiving and processing advance care planning documents; information technology solutions for electronic storage and alerts; clerical staff duties in regards advance care planning documents; and clinician education. Effects of change: There was a 12-fold increase in advance care planning documents stored electronically and 100% of audited notes had correct filing of advance care planning documents with an alert in place at follow-up audit. Clinician recognition of the presence of an advance care planning document improved. Detailed examples of interventions are described. Lessons learnt: Repeated exposure to different forms of advance care planning education, in conjunction with simple but effective system changes can make a difference in changing established hospital practice. Final impact of these changes on end-of-life care requires further audit. © 2019 National Rural Health Alliance Ltd.