New Jersey Launches Electronic Access to End-of-Life Care Records
Form Now Available via Web & Mobile Devices Provides Immediate Access to Care Preferences
New Jersey Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett and New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) President and CEO Betsy Ryan today launched New Jersey's new electronic Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) during a visit to Villa Marie Claire Hospice in Saddle River.
Electronic POLST enables access to an online form—via a secure website and mobile devices—so a patient and physician or advance practice nurse can detail the individual's goals of care and medical preferences when facing a life-limiting illness.
As part of the electronic POLST initiative, a central repository for POLST is created electronically, enabling access for healthcare professionals—including EMS—across the state. The electronic POLST was designed to easily integrate with patients' current electronic medical records. It also can be viewed on mobile devices, providing easy access to patients and healthcare providers.
"Creating electronic access to the POLST form will help ensure patients' wishes are honored," Commissioner Bennett said. "Through this tool, more healthcare providers will have immediate access to critical information they need to treat the patient according to the patients' healthcare preference. Patients with smart phones also will be able to share their electronic POLST form with a new physician, specialist or emergency room doctor."
"Individuals facing a serious illness must be empowered to determine the care they want at the end of life. Sometimes the highest level of medical care – with multiple procedures or long stays in the hospital – may not be what's right for the patient," NJHA President & CEO Betsy Ryan said. "Electronic POLST is an important tool that uses mobile technology to literally place that power in the hands of patients, along with their primary care providers. That's the ultimate goal behind POLST – putting patients first and providing the best care for their unique situation."
During the visit to Villa Marie Claire Hospice, which is a freestanding hospice facility and part of Holy Name Medical Center, the Commissioner toured the facility and learned the efforts they are undertaking to provide comfort to patients and their families when dealing with a terminal illness.
"Here at Villa Marie Claire, we believe that quality and dignity can be achieved at every stage of life, regardless of an individual's medical diagnosis or physical condition. In fact, studies have shown that well-coordinated, appropriate, supportive care at end of life actually helps patients live better, and often longer," said Michael Maron, president and CEO of Holy Name Medical Center. "A major part of achieving dignity at the end stages of life is to ensure a patient's wishes are clearly communicated and understood by caregivers and loved ones. The POLST form is one way for patients to direct their end-of-life care choices in a clear and effective manner."
Governor Chris Christie signed New Jersey's POLST law in December 2011 to empower individuals to make decisions regarding their medical care at the end of life. The Department designated the New Jersey Hospital Association to create New Jersey's POLST form and electronic POLST.
The POLST form and additional resources are available from the Department at www.state.nj.us/health/advancedirective/polst.shtml or NJHA at www.njha.com/POLST.Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter at twitter.com/NJDeptofHealth and on Facebook at facebook.com/NJDeptofHealth.