Less than 30% of Americans take the initiative to talk with their loved ones about end of life care decisions and create advance directives. And those that do, typically store the relevant documents somewhere safe, not on their person.
The trouble is, without those documents available at the point of care, it can be difficult for healthcare providers to honor a patient’s wishes. The American Bar Association has created a solution to this problem. My Health Care Wishes is a smartphone application that allows users and their caretakers to upload and store advance directives, living wills, health care powers of attorney (HCPOA, health care proxy), DNR orders, and POLSTs (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) documents on their smartphone, allowing healthcare providers easier access to these important documents. Once the documents are imported to the application, users print a Wallet Card that tells healthcare providers about the application and gives instructions on how to access the documents.
For example, a 90-year-old woman is taken to the emergency department. She is unconscious and unable to communicate her decisions to the providers in the ED. A nurse finds the patient’s Wallet Card that says the My Health Care Wishes application on her phone contains all her advance directives information along with contact information for her healthcare proxy. The nurse follows the instructions, accesses the documents, and contacts the patient’s proxy to ensure her wishes are honored. For patients who do not own a smartphone, a healthcare proxy or family member may store the relevant documents on his or her smartphone. In that case, the patient’s Wallet Card would instruct providers to contact the healthcare proxy or family member who can email or text the relevant documents to the provider.
There are two versions of the My Health Care Wishes: A Lite Version (free) and a Pro Version ($3.99). The Pro Version has a few more features, including the ability to store documents for multiple people and integration with the cloud storage site Dropbox.
For more information on this application, visit the American Bar Association website.