Sutter Health and Vynca Work Together to Clarify Patients’ End-of-Life Care Choices

Posted on May 8, 2018 in Quality

Collaboration provides clinicians throughout the Sutter Health network access to consistent, actionable and comprehensive advance care planning tools


SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Sutter Health, a leading not-for-profit healthcare network in Northern California, and Vynca, a provider of advance care planning solutions, have collaborated to improve end-of-life care communication between doctors and patients.

Vynca offers a comprehensive software solution to capture, store and access Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) forms—a tool used to ensure patients’ end-of-life wishes are met. Sutter Health uses Vynca’s software throughout its system, which includes hospitals, doctor’s offices and Advanced Illness Management (AIM) providers.

Elizabeth Mahler, M.D., Sutter Health’s vice president for Patient Health Management, said the system provides Sutter Health clinical teams across the care continuum a “single source of truth”—especially important during emergencies. Additionally, EHR integration eliminates redundant data entry, improving accuracy and saving time.

“We care for many patients across our network who face serious illnesses. It’s important that they feel supported in their decisions and have confidence that their wishes will be respected and met,” Dr. Mahler said.

“Implementing a comprehensive advance care planning program has many challenges, and finding advance care planning documents in EHRs is notoriously difficult,” said Ryan Van Wert, M.D., chief medical officer and co-founder of Vynca. “Our technology helps Sutter Health clinicians navigate conversations with patients and families, accurately document patient preferences, and easily access POLST forms across all care settings.”

POLST forms allow people with serious, life-limiting illnesses to document their care preferences. However, the lack of infrastructure to support and sustain an electronic registry can make it difficult for providers to find and access patients’ documents, especially during emergencies. As a paper document that travels with the patient, the form can be easily lost or simply not be available to the providers who need it when a patient is no longer able to speak for himself or herself. In addition, patients’ end-of-life wishes are accurately documented only about 30 percent of the time, (1.) and about 25 percent of paper forms have an avoidable error that renders them unusable. (2.)

In an effort to address these challenges, California SB 19 (2015) required the development of a POLST eRegistry pilot. Providers and health networks—such as Sutter Health—that are participating in the pilot can upload POLST forms on a protected, cloud-based platform securely accessible by providers across the state.


1. Heyland D, Barwich D, Pichora D, et al. Failure to engage hospitalized elderly patients and their families in advance care planning. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(9):778–787.

2. Zive, D. Oregon POLST Registry Annual Report. Oregon, 2016.


Posted by on May 8, 2018 in Quality | Comments Off on Sutter Health and Vynca Work Together to Clarify Patients’ End-of-Life Care Choices