A Simple Step: A Call for Long-Term Healthcare Planning

In the wake of the expiring public health emergency and persistent capacity constraints within healthcare facilities, a coalition of leading organizations is coming together to promote proactive care decision-making by calling on patients to designate a healthcare agent and complete a health care proxy document.

The coalition is urging every patient to designate a healthcare agent, or the person trusted to make care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them for yourself. The importance of proactive decision-making became especially evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, when thousands of patients across the nation were incapacitated and in need of representation regarding their care.

The coalition is highlighting three key steps for community members:

  1. Choose someone you trust to be your designated healthcare agent and have a simple conversation about what’s important to you.
  2. Complete a health care proxy form – you can do it all yourself! (The form is available in 15 languages.)
  3. Have a simple conversation with your care team about the care that’s right for you.

Completion of a health care proxy, the simple form patients can use to assign their agent, can also help alleviate some of the intense pressures healthcare organizations are now experiencing. Proxies empower caregivers to work directly with trusted loved ones and efficiently transition them to other care settings from the moment their hospital stay is winding down. Hospital case managers report that when patients lack a healthcare agent, it prevents them from being discharged and ties up acute-level beds for other patients in need. Patients do not get the level of care they need, while hospital wait times and care access for other individuals suffer.

Read more about the effort, the partner toolkit, and patient resources here.