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New App delivers health care wishes in a crisis

Mom, 93 with congestive heart failure and crippling arthritis, living a thousand miles away, falls down, breaks a hip and is rushed to the ER. The doctors get her stabilized, and see she has your name in the wallet as the emergency contact. An ER nurse  calls you to discuss her treatment.

On your phone is an app filled with vital information: your designation as the person with health care power of attorney, advance directives from your mom about the treatments she wants in emergencies, and her view of end-of-life care. Your mom is a strong believer in her willpower and her ability to recover, and she wants aggressive treatment, even with all her complex health issues and her advanced age. You send the doctors the information from your cell phone, just before you make the  plane reservation to rush to your mom’s bedside.

You can do this with the new My Health Care Wishes app just announced by the American Bar Assn.

It’s not just for the children worrying about an elderly parent. People of all ages can use it.  Perhaps   you suffer a sudden collapse at dinner, someone with you calls 911, and grabs your cell phone to find out who to call. The ABA describes the situation

“Brad is single and travels a lot for work. He’s out of town running from meeting to meeting and doesn’t have time to eat all day. Around 7:30 p.m. he arrives at a restaurant where his business partners are waiting. Before ordering, he faints and can’t be woken. The restaurant owner calls 911 and one of his work associates, Sarah, remembers Brad telling her about an app that stores a PDF of advance directive documents. Before the EMTs arrive, Sarah finds the My Health Care Wishes app on Brad’s iPhone’s front screen, opens it, sees his sister, Pam, is his proxy, and calls her. Sarah explains what happened and Pam tells her that Brad was recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. EMT’s arrive, are apprised of the situation, check and determine that Brad can wait until the hospital for insulin.”

This offers the potential for vast changes in how people can communicate their health care wishes in the digital age.  “While most all Americans think it’s a good idea to talk with their loved ones about end-of-life care, less than 30% have actually done it,” says the ABA.

“The My Health Care Wishes smartphone app gives individuals the ability to store and share important health care wishes. In an emergency, you’ll have immediate access to a PDF version of your advance directive. An important document like this doesn’t belong tucked away in a safety deposit box or in a file cabinet somewhere. Import and store it on your smartphone so that it’s there for medical decision-making anytime, anywhere. Your information is protected because the data resides only on your smartphone, not on any server or cloud service.”

The app has two versions,  a free one, My Health Care Wishes lite, which can hold basic documents, and  a Pro version for $3.99 with unlimited storage for “advance directives, living wills, health care powers of attorney (HCPOA, health care proxy), DNR orders, and POLSTs (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment).

More information from the ABA.

Written by Bob Rosenblatt

Bob Rosenblatt is a researcher, writer and journalist who helps people looking for up-to-date answers and information on the perplexing issues at the intersection of finances and aging. Bob publishes a weekly report — please take a moment to subscribe in the upper right hand corner of this page.

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