The Blog to Transform Advanced Care

Advancing Care through Innovation, Observation and Collaboration.

Ryan Van Wert, MD: Driving Advanced Care Innovation

Coming from a background in critical care medicine, Ryan Van Wert, MD, has seen scores of patients receive treatment in intensive care units. Some of those patients, he said, were patients with serious or life-limiting illnesses who may not have wanted aggressive treatment.

Dr. Van Wert said that, days after putting a patient on life support, a family member or loved one would sometimes appear with a crumpled advance care planning document indicating that this care did not align with the patient’s wishes. Experiences like this drove him to co-found Vynca, with the goal of developing technology that enables individuals, families and care teams to make care planning decisions and ensure that those preferences are properly documented and available when and where they are needed.

“Honoring a person’s care preferences at the end of life is something we just have to get right every time. It is first and foremost the right thing to do for patients, families and healthcare providers. And as value-based programs and consumerism transform our healthcare system, the provision of unwanted care that does not align with treatment goals and preferences will increasingly be seen as unacceptable.,” Dr. Van Wert said.

Vynca has developed a variety of technological solutions that make it easier for individuals to document their end-of-life care wishes and for providers to access those directives, to ensure that they are honored. The company currently manages over 550,000 care plans and has contributed to a 37 percent decrease in hospital admissions.

In addition to serving as Vynca’s chief executive officer, Dr. Van Wert is a part-time Clinical Assistant Professor at Stanford University, where he also practices medicine. A named inventor on multiple issued and pending health technology patents, Dr. Van Wert’s work merges clinical practice with technological development.

As the Baby Boomer generation grows older, Dr. Van Wert expects an increased demand for solutions that address the challenges that come with end-of-life care.

This has coincided with the release of publications that have raised end-of-life care issues as an important topic in public discourse, from the 2014 Dying in America report to Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, both published in 2014. Dr. Van Wert also noted that issues related to aging and advanced illness have garnered attention from lawmakers, opening doors for policy developments that can drive change.

Opportunities for innovation in advanced care could also draw skilled minds to the field from other disciplines, Dr. Van Wert said. By supporting emerging leaders and remaining open to new approaches and advances, the current standard bearers in advanced care can cultivate a new generation of advocates. Dr. Van Wert has been pleased to see that this culture is already prevalent in the movement.

“What I really like about working in the field of advanced care is that people are truly passionate about solving problems,” said Dr. Van Wert. “Naturally, that has turned into an overall culture of mentorship.”

Between positive policy developments and heightened public awareness, Dr. Van Wert is optimistic about the future of advanced care.

“All of these things are driving us toward solving the problem of how we better deliver advanced care,” said Dr. Van Wert. “It’s a perfect time to innovate.”

C-TAC is proud to count Vynca among our membership. For more information about Vynca, please click here.

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