Horizon Planning

What Is Horizon Planning?

Horizon Planning® is not just about old age. At any age, a medical crisis could leave you too ill to make your own health care decisions. Even if you are not sick now, developing an advanced care plan and making health care plans for the future are important steps toward making sure you get the medical care you would want, even when doctors and family members are making the decisions for you.

It is important to have a conversation now, regardless of age, about your wishes with your loved ones and your primary care provider. This should be a two-sided conversation. Knowing your preferences might take some of the burden off family and friends.

Horizon Planning involves learning about the types of decisions that might need to be made, considering those decisions ahead of time, and then letting others know about your preferences. Everyone has a health horizon. Let’s plan for it.


When should I discuss Horizon Planning?

There are various phases in your health that might trigger a conversation about Horizon Planning. As an adult, you are never too young or too old to discuss your Horizon Plan. The earlier you have these conversations, especially when you are healthy, the easier they are.

  • Phase 1 – An adult patient at any age who is healthy or has a curable condition
  • Phase 2 – A patient with a new, chronic condition diagnosis
  • Phase 3 – A patient with progressive, frequent complications
  • Phase 4 – A patient who is hospice eligible

How do I create a Horizon Plan?

The first and most important step is to have a conversation with your loved ones and your primary care provider. There are also documents below to help you plan. Your primary care provider and these documents can help you organize and write down your wishes so that if and when the situation arises, your wishes can be known and followed.

  • The Conversation Starter Kit is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. This can help to organize your own thoughts and assist in having the conversation with your loved ones.
  • The Five Wishes booklet includes instructions and forms needed to make advance care planning decisions. This booklet includes a:
    • Living will: describes the kind of life-sustaining treatment you want or do not want if you are later unable to tell your doctor what kind of treatment you wish to receive. 
    • Durable power of attorney for health care: allows you to name another person to make certain medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.
  • Physician orders for life sustaining treatment (POLST): a document that effectively communicates your wishes to have or limit medical treatment as you move from one care setting to another. This is created by your physician with you or your durable power of attorney for health care when you are seriously ill or frail and may be expected to die within the year.

Once completed, the living will, durable power of attorney or POLST can be submitted to your primary care provider and your hospital to become part of your shared care plan in your electronic health record.


 Related links:


Horizon Planning™ and Horizon Plan™ are trademarks of WellSpan Health.

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