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PAMF Palliative Medicine M.D. Receives Award for Advance Care Planning Work

Steve Lai, M.D.

Steve Lai, M.D.

Steve Lai, M.D., a palliative medicine physician at The Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), recently received the Practice Change Enhancement Award, a grant of $15,000, from the Hartford Foundation. This grant will be used to support Dr. Lai’s ongoing work to improve the quality of care we provide when assisting older and chronically ill patients in making advance care planning decisions.

“It’s an honor to receive this award and support,” says Dr. Lai. “It shows recognition for the value of our work to date and makes it possible to build on and sustain our efforts.”

In 2014 Dr. Lai was one of 10 individuals in the U.S. chosen for the Practice Change Leaders Program – a national program designed to develop, support and expand the influence of leaders who are committed to achieving transformative improvements in older adult care. As part of the program, Dr. Lai received a grant of $45,000 and mentorship from experienced leaders in the field to support a quality improvement project at PAMF led by him.

This quality improvement pilot project, called Honoring Your Wishes, consisted of providing select patients with a special 30-minute appointment that included a conversation with a social worker and showing a five-minute professionally produced, research-based advance care planning video. The goal of this appointment was to educate and support people facing serious illness and empower them to be able to talk to their doctors and family about their goals and wishes for treatment and care. The pilot ran in the Internal Medicine, Oncology and Pulmonary Departments at the Palo Alto Center.

Beginning March 2016 the pilot will expand to all PAMF palliative and geriatric care locations, Sutter Health’s Advanced Illness Management (AIM) program, Mills-Peninsula Health Services Peninsula Circle of Care program and Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation ambulatory clinic patients with chronic medical conditions.

Dr. Lai will be using the new grant funds to develop a structured, evidence-based approach to advance care planning and design communication workshops for physicians to learn the most effective ways to initiate and lead advance care planning conversations with their patients. Ming-Tai Seale, Ph.D., MPH, a senior scientist at PAMF’s Research Institute, will be supporting Dr. Lai by collecting data to evaluate the success of this approach.

Learn more about Palliative Care Medicine at PAMF.

Learn more about Geriatric Medicine at PAMF.