“We have to shift our mindset to what are those little things that made that experience exceptional in another industry and another part of life, and how do we bring that back to healthcare?” -Ryan Van Wert, MD

Our CEO, Ryan Van Wert, MD sat down with the UCSF Rosenman Institute to highlight how Vynca is disrupting end-of-life care. Here are just a few of the highlights from the conversation.

When discussing the two companies that came out of Stanford Biodesign:

The second project is what I spend most of my time on now, which is really how we deliver end-of-life care in this country, and a recognition that when people are faced with a serious illness, they often have not had meaningful conversations, codified those conversations in an easy to access way that allows clinicians to direct the care they want, and unfortunately the healthcare system is set up, singularly focused on prolonging life and delivering care that is curative when possible. But the fact of the matter is when people are faced with serious illnesses, more often than not their preference is to avoid these aggressive interventions and focus instead on quality of life, but unless you have a means of changing that paradigm (i.e. through an individual expressing their wishes in advance), the default will occur.

End-of-life care and the financial impact:

This is one of the most costly segments of healthcare delivery today. I think most people are familiar with the statistics that about one-third of the Medicare budget is being allocated to the last year of life. You can argue a lot of that is appropriate care for things like surgery, chemotherapy, advanced treatments for heart failure or lung disease. But when you look at the last few months of life, we’re still seeing about $60 billion of spending and in that particular case, the insight is that a lot of that is not care that is addressing the goals of that individual.

All the care settings and their various EHRs and technology:

We’ve developed a strategy where we’ve taken a large bite out of the apple approach and developed integration with the large EHR vendors, and that takes 70%, even 80% of the market these days. And then for the tail that exists within healthcare technology, we will typically use standard single sign-on methodologies that allow us to tie into a majority of systems. And then we have the web portal and ways for others that don’t have the means or abilities to do a formal integration, so they can access the system.

Helping clinicians make treatment decisions:

Our goal is to provide the clinicians with as much information as possible about that person’s goals and values so that they can support shared decision making to achieve exactly that.

Interest from the payer side:

The reality of our world today is that every healthcare provider organization is in some way or another bearing risk, i.e. in the traditional fee-for-service world, there was an incentive to do more and now, thankfully, the focus is shifting to risk in a way that recognizes quality, and particularly around the end-of-life is exceptionally important. Our focus to date has largely been on health systems because of those value drivers, but we have increasingly had interest from health plans who feel that it is important for their members to have access to tools to support this kind of decision making. As a company, we are shifting from our pure health system focus, although still a major focus, to looking at the needs of health plans as they address the quality of care at the end-of-life for their members.

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About the Author


Vynca, based in Palo Alto, Calif., provides comprehensive advance care planning technology solutions that enable health care organizations to deliver high-quality end-of-life care consistent with an individual’s preferences.

The company helps patients, families and health care providers have meaningful conversations about future care preferences, ensure that wishes are documented accurately and provides real-time access to this critical information throughout the care continuum.