Advance care planning and the important role of health care providers

April 29, 2024

When your patients create advance directives, they are more likely to get the care they prefer at the end of their lives.1 Advance directives can also help your patients to protect their family from hard and uncertain health care decisions.2 Yet, only one in three adults in the U.S. has any type of end-of-life care directive for their family to follow.3

As your patient’s trusted health care advisor, you can help raise awareness about the importance of advance care planning and get your patients to think about or take action on creating a plan.

Starting the conversation

When is the right time to talk about advance care planning? If your patient is healthy, you may feel a conversation isn’t necessary or you may wonder if you are the best person to start the conversation. However, many patients may appreciate your interest in educating them about advance care planning and be receptive to your advice – regardless of where they are on the health care continuum.

Possible provider office strategies4 include:

  • Discussing advance care planning during annual wellness visits.
  • Considering the use of medical assistants in starting the conversation.
  • Posting educational materials in waiting and exam rooms.
  • Having printed forms and resources available to share.

Be sure to document advance directive discussions in medical records

Some states require health plans to review medical record documentation. As part of our annual review, we look for information regarding advance directive discussions to ensure they are occurring between network-participating providers and customers. See the article Ambulatory medical record reviews.

Additional resources for providers

  1. “Advance Care Planning: Advance Directives for Health Care.” 31 October 2022. Retrieved from
  2. Len Strazewski. “On advance directives, doctors should be role models for patients.” 14 April 2022. Retrieved from
  3. Kuldeep N. Yadav et al. “Approximately One In Three US Adults Completes Any Type Of Advance Directive For End-Of-Life Care.” Health Affairs. July 2017. Retrieved from,similar%20across%20the%20years%20reviewed.
  4. Pamela Tabar. “7 strategies to get patients talking about end-of-life care.” Physicians Practice. 20 September 2019. Retrieved from  

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