National Healthcare Decisions Day Spotlights Advance Directives

Each April 16, the Healthcare Leadership Council joins organizations across the nation in raising awareness of the importance of advance care planning.  Of course, this is an issue with year-round importance, but the April 16 date is set aside as a day for public initiatives to make more Americans aware of the importance of advance directives and living wills.

This is an aspect of healthcare that warrants greater attention, study and conversation.  Physicians and hospital leaders have spoken compellingly about the significant amount of resources directed to advanced illness care and the difficulty involved in delivering that care in a way that is in the best interests of patients and their loved ones.

The Healthcare Leadership Council is a partner in the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC), a nonprofit organization that has conducted consumer research on advance planning and care for serious illness.  In a report, C-TAC discussed the importance of doctor-patient communication and education on types of treatment, which can raise awareness and help patients and their families create a more specific advanced care plan.

The C-TAC report states, “Efforts around advanced illness care should focus on ensuring that the proper mechanisms are in place for shared discussion and decision making among the triad of patients, family members and physicians at the time care decisions need to be made.”

The report also discusses an online tool, Making Your Wishes Known, which has proven to be a simple method of creating effective advance directives.  Tools such as this need to be widely promoted so that the benefits of advance planning can be shared with those patients who are not yet prepared for these critical decisions.

For more information on National Healthcare Decisions Day, please visit