Digital health tools — whether telehealth apps, electronic medical records or advance care plans — have become critically important over the past several months as people across the country stay home to flatten the curve.
Doctors and healthcare providers have quickly adapted to caring for patients without seeing them in-person in order to ensure preventative health services, chronic condition care and treatments continue despite the coronavirus pandemic. Even as states slowly reopen, our new normal is largely more digital and will remain that way.
There’s never been a more critical time to get acquainted with the many digital health tools available to patients and consumers. We’re seven months into home quarantine with no return insight to what we all know as normal, and we must find ways to move aspects of our health and wellness online.
Online resources that provide support to help keep your health in check, which range from online wellness tips to websites that help you organize your medical documents, have seen a significant uptick in traffic and usage during this pandemic. Online fitness classes that can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle can be found on every corner of the net and telehealth is now available from many providers – but what about advance care planning? Advance care plans are vital, especially now, and if you haven’t made one yet it’s time to start thinking about it.
Advance care plans are critical to ensure you have a voice in your care in the event you cannot speak for yourself so doctors are able to provide care that respects your wishes. They also allow people to designate a health proxy if they’re unable to speak for themselves.
Especially now, with COVID-19, it is essential to have an advance care plan in case you or your loved one cannot dictate healthcare desires. If you’re one of 75% of Americans over the age of 18 that don’t have a plan, now’s the time to make one. If you’re one of the far too few people who do have one, it’s likely out of date, and even worse, on paper!
Many of us are quarantining far from home, worrying about loved ones and their health and well-being during this time. By encouraging them to create an advance care plan, you can ensure that their wishes will be respected in an emergency, even if you are not there. An advance care plan clearly articulates the needs of your loved ones to physicians and encourages families to have the tough conversations about health priorities that are necessary in this moment.
MyDirectives.com is a free online platform that allows you to upload video, paper documents and more and has an accompanying iphone app. Plans created online are more accessible and can be taken anywhere, unlike paper copies that are often hard to find or out of reach in times of crisis. Another benefit of creating an online plan is that your plan can be altered at any time and shared with family as well as medical providers whenever necessary.
In an emergency we also have to ask ourselves, would we remember to bring all essential documents and would we know where to find them? A digital advance care plan makes it easy to access important materials and leaves you with a little less to worry about during a health crisis.
Many people still find comfort in carrying something with them, in case your cell phone dies, or you’re locked out of a loved one’s phone and you serve as their proxy. MyDirectives is one digital platform that also has an accompanying wallet card that allows doctors to quickly access your medical history when you arrive at the hospital. Doctors can scan this card to access your medical history as well as your advance care plan.
Now more than ever, we must utilize the technology available to us to ensure our safety and protect what is important to us when disaster strikes. By planning ahead and using your resources, you and your loved ones can be prepared for any medical emergency. Protect the wishes of yourself and your loved ones, make an advance care plan today.
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