Operator? Business, Insurer Take On End-of-Life Issues By Phone
By Elana Gordon, WHYY
Kaiser Health News, August 27, 2014
Forward by Don McCanne, see comments below.
Kate Schleicher, 27, is a licensed clinical social worker, who knows almost as little about you as you do about her. Except she knows your phone number, your insurance provider and that you are pretty sick.
Schleicher is one of 50 social workers at a company called Vital Decisions. After sending a letter (people rarely respond) counselors essentially cold-call to offer what they describe as “nondirected” end-of-life counseling.
The hope of this program, she says, is to build a relationship over the phone, so (the patient) might be comfortable discussing his situation and his goals. Then he’ll be empowered to communicate those things with others, including his family and his doctors. He could also choose to allow the counselor to talk to his doctors or family directly. It’s paid for by insurers and federal privacy rules permit this for business purposes.
And when these conversations do happen, there’s can be another byproduct: reduced costs. Res