Blue Shield of California and Vital Decisions Collaborate to Connect Eligible Members with Palliative Care Services

Nonprofit health plan members with serious illness get specialized medical care that matches their values and wishes through outreach and referral program

Edison, New Jersey – May 26, 2020Blue Shield of California and Vital Decisions are collaborating to increase the awareness, education and use of Blue Shield’s innovative home-based palliative care services for members with serious illnesses. Since 2017, Blue Shield’s Palliative Care Program has been helping members of all ages who have serious illnesses get the specialized care they need.

Vital Decisions is a healthcare company that ensures individuals with serious illness or in a medical crisis receive care aligned with their values and wishes. Using behavioral science methodologies, proprietary analytics and clinical experts, Vital Decisions provides collaborative decision-making and advance care planning support for patients. Through phone or video sessions, Vital Decisions’ experts help individuals and their families to engage in care planning, overcome barriers related to making care decisions under difficult circumstances, and become more aware of and connected to important care services available to them.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Blue Shield has adapted its care delivery to ensure health and safety of its members and providers alike, for example, relying more on phone and video for care delivery. Home-visit services are still available with appropriate protection measures in place. Members can still receive an urgent in-person visit if needed, or acute home visits for symptom management and other issues for those members who test negative for COVID-19.

“Blue Shield of California is at the forefront of innovation in palliative care,” said Leah Puccio, CEO of Vital Decisions. “The health plan’s ability to flex its palliative program to accommodate the needs of members as they cope with the challenges associated with COVID-19 demonstrates a commitment to making the individual’s health a top priority. With this type of adaptability, it is no surprise that Blue Shield’s Palliative Care has a member satisfaction rating 95 percent.”

Through Vital Decisions’ Guided Living Voice program, care alignment coordinators, who are experts in behavior change and advanced illness decision making, explore with individuals their wishes and values, and their awareness and understanding of palliative care. The coordinator determines whether palliative care services might be helpful and, with consent, refers the individual and family to the palliative care services provided by Blue Shield, which include in-home and telehealth services.

“At Blue Shield, our palliative care program exemplifies our vision of providing access to care that’s worthy of our family and friends, and we look forward to working with Vital Decisions to help spread the word about this care to more members with serious illnesses,” said Seth Glickman, chief health officer, Blue Shield of California.

For individuals experiencing emotional or behavioral barriers who would like to explore their advance care decision making in greater depth, Vital Decisions and Blue Shield offer the Living Well program. In this multi-session telehealth solution, Vital Decisions’ clinical “Specialists” act as personal guides to help individuals, often with a family member or healthcare proxy, talk about what matters most, navigate different care-decision scenarios, communicate preferences with loved ones and a medical team, and overcome barriers such as feelings of fear or anxiety, worry about burdening loved ones, or guilt over wishes that differ from those of family members.

These services are included in Blue Shield’s member benefits and include access to Vital Decisions’ secure, online advance-care planning platform, My Living Voice, where individuals can select a healthcare proxy and complete, store and share an Advance Directive.