National poll reveals that doctors need help with end-of-life conversations with clients

Medicare is now covering end-of-life conversations between doctors and patients but there have been a few wrinkles.

A news story I read about a national poll reveals doctors are finding it difficult to initiate such conversations as well as what to say when they do.

The poll of 736 primary care doctors and specialists included the following findings:

  • While 75 percent of doctors said Medicare reimbursement makes it more likely they’d have advance care planning discussions, only about 14 percent said they had actually billed Medicare for those visits.
  • Three quarters believe it’s their responsibility to initiate end-of-life conversations.
  • Fewer than one-third reported any formal training on end-of-life discussions with patients and their families.
  • More than half said they had not discussed end-of-life care with their own physicians.

The problem is doctors in the system weren’t trained in how to have end-of-life discussions. In terms of support, doctors in large medical systems may fare better than those in private practice.

Despite the occasional minor challenges, it’s good to see that end-of-life conversations are becoming commonplace for my clients. The outcome of such discussions enables us to create more precise powers of attorney which will lay out clearly the way they want to be treated when their time comes.

To read the original story, please click here.

To read the national poll, click here.