Gundersen Health System book highlights need for new model of advanced care

Having Your Own Say shows how proven models give people the care they want

La Crosse, Wis., March 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Gundersen Health System based in La Crosse, Wis., released Having Your Own Say: Getting the Right Care When It Matters Most.

The book highlights innovative, proven models of person-centered care from around the United States and Australia that empower people with advanced illness to receive the quality care they want, with greater patient and family satisfaction and, while not the goal, lower costs.

“Getting the care we wish to receive that fits within our individual goals and values is what every American wants when faced with an advanced illness, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease or heart disease. Our new book shows how this can be done in diverse regions of the United States and other parts of the world,” says Bernard Hammes, PhD, editor of Having Your Own Say and director of Medical Humanities and Respecting Choices® at Gundersen Health System.

When hospitals and healthcare systems adopt the models described in the book, patients receive better, more compassionate care that is consistent with their wishes. Too often, people with advanced illness are not made aware of all of their options.

“The ultimate aim of the healthcare models highlighted in the book is making sure patients receive the treatment they want based on truly informed decisions and avoiding over- or under-treatment. It’s about quality of living as defined by each individual and, for families, it’s about making sure their loved ones’ wishes are known and followed. The cost savings that have been noted in places where effective planning has been implemented are an unintended benefit,” Dr. Hammes comments.

Estimating national savings from these models is challenging. However, research shows that if proven advanced care interventions were provided to the 5 percent of the U.S. population that currently accounts for 50 percent of all healthcare costs about $25 billion could be saved.

Having Your Own Say is a collaborative effort between Gundersen and healthcare groups including Aetna, Amedisys, Sutter Health, Honoring Choices Minnesota, Respecting Patient Choices in Australia and more.

The book includes introductions from Michael Leavitt, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and former governor of Utah, and U.S. Senator Mark Warner from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Having Your Own Say is available at