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Being Prepared in the Time of COVID-19: Guide helps patients and those close to them consider what matters most in treatment

Being Prepared in the Time of COVID-19: Guide helps patients and those close to them consider what matters most in treatment

The guide was developed by Ariadne Labs and The Conversation Project with generous support from the Cambia Health Foundation.

BOSTON, April 9, 2020 – Ariadne Labs and The Conversation Project announced the joint development of a conversation guide to support people in discussing their goals and priorities for treatment should they become sick with COVID-19. The guide, titled Being Prepared in the Time of COVID-19: Three things you can do now, was designed to support everyone in making difficult choices in the face of serious illness.

“Over the next few weeks and months, many patients and their families will have to contend with difficult decisions about health care and treatment options in the face of COVID-19. Yet, many have not considered their values, goals, and preferences,” said Erik Fromme, MD, Faculty of the Ariadne Labs Serious Illness Care Program. “This guide helps ease the difficulty of these conversations and ensure that the priorities of each patient are at the center of treatment decisions.”

The guide, developed with support from the Cambia Health Foundation, identifies three key steps you can take to be prepared in case you become seriously ill. First, choose a person who you would trust to make medical decisions for you if you were too sick to make them yourself. Then, have a conversation with them and other important people in your life about what matters most to you. Finally, think about what you would want if you became seriously ill with COVID-19, such as types of treatments you would want your medical team to consider.

“The best time to have this conversation is before you or someone you care about becomes sick,” said Kate DeBartolo, Director of The Conversation Project, an initiative of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. “While many people who become infected with COVID-19 will get better on their own, some may require extensive medical treatment for severe complications and be unable to make medical decisions for themselves. Taking time now to make sure those who are important to you know what matters most can be a tremendous help to your loved ones and clinicians.”

This work builds on an ongoing partnership between The Conversation Project and Ariadne Labs to develop conversation guides for patients to help those with serious illness have conversations with their health care providers about what matters most to them.

This guide, intended for use by patients, was released alongside Ariadne Labs’ toolkit of resources to support clinicians in having conversations with those at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19.

About Ariadne Labs

Ariadne Labs is a joint health systems innovation center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. We develop simple, scalable solutions that dramatically improve the delivery of health care at critical moments to save lives and reduce suffering. Our vision is for health systems to deliver the best possible care for every patient, everywhere, every time. Founded in 2012, Ariadne Labs is home to the Serious Illness Conversation Program.

Visit to learn more. 

About The Conversation Project

The Conversation Project, co-founded by Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Goodman in 2012, is a public engagement initiative with a goal that is both simple and transformative: to have every person’s wishes for end-of-life care expressed and respected.

The purpose of The Conversation Project is to enable more people to sit down at the kitchen table with those who matter most to them, and talk about what they want when it comes to end-of-life care. Through a public engagement campaign, a website, story sharing, and guides, the project encourages people to have these discussions long before there’s serious illness or a health crisis. Many have taken its message to heart, with more than one million users of The Conversation Project’s Conversation Starter Kits to date. The project also shares free conversation guides and videos for families with people who have Alzheimer’s and other dementias, for families with seriously ill children, and for choosing a health care proxy. For more information, visit

The Conversation Project is an initiative of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a not-for-profit organization that is a leader in health and health care improvement worldwide. For more information, visit

Media Contacts

Kate DeBartolo, The Conversation Project: 

Brigid Tsai, Ariadne Labs: 

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