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Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Website Aims To Help Patients Make Difficult Medical Decisions

Researchers in California have launched a website that aims to help people make difficult medical decisions, FierceHealthIT reports (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 1/6).

The no-cost website, called PREPARE, was developed by physicians at the:

  • San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center;
  • University of California-San Francisco Medical Center; and
  • Veterans Health Research Institute (Krieger, San Jose Mercury News, 1/7).

Goals for the Website

Rebecca Sudore -- a geriatrician and palliative care physician at the VA hospital, as well as an associate professor of medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine -- said, "There are few resources which can adequately prepare patients and their families to face serious illness or a medical crisis -- situations which often involve complex decisions over time."

Sudore said the website aims to help families:

  • Identify their priorities;
  • Communicate their priorities with their family, friends and physicians; and
  • Make informed medical decisions (FierceHealthIT, 1/6).

Details of the Website

The PREPARE website is written in plain English at a fifth-grade reading level. It provides:

  • Voice-overs of all text;
  • Large font for the visually-impaired; and
  • Closed-captioning for the hearing-impaired.

The website is interactive and features videos of people discussing how they spoke about difficult issues with family and physicians (San Jose Mercury News, 1/7).

The website encourages users to:

  • Determine their life priorities;
  • Choose a medical decision-maker;
  • Decide whether the decision-maker should follow only their guidance or have the flexibility to make other decisions;
  • Tell others what medical decisions they have made; and
  • Ask physicians the right questions (Painter, USA Today, 1/5).
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