At the Academy’s recent Virtual Summit, I spoke, among other things, about the rising importance of your clients’ advance directives during this coronavirus crisis. Here is a piece of what I shared.
Why have advance directives and access to them become more crucial during Covid-19?
Because the novel coronavirus is so contagious, your clients will be alone in the hospital if they have Covid-19, and may be alone even if they do not have Covid-19. (Hospitals need to protect visitors from contracting the virus and also from visitors potentially spreading the virus within the hospital.)
Without visitors, your clients’ family can’t talk with the doctors right away, in person. They can’t tell the doctor who is the health care agent, or provide any other pertinent medical information about the patient.
Without visitors, doctors can communicate with family only by phone and video chat. It can be hard for doctors to know the phone numbers for family members even if they do know whom they’re supposed to talk to.
Advance directives, in this scenario, can get the communication ball rolling. But how are doctors supposed to get the advance directives if the family isn’t present to provide them?
This is why digital access to advance directives is especially helpful right now.
We all know that advance directives generally aren’t available at the hospital with them. Many studies have shown this. In fact, they show that advance directives aren’t available at the hospital at least 75% of the times they are needed.
Advance directives registries, like DocuBank and others, enable clients to be sure that hospitals and doctors can receive their advance directives quickly.
In DocuBank’s case, clients carry a wallet card containing all the information any hospital needs to obtain their advance directives instantly. A hospital simply gets the directives from the website (prints or downloads), or they can make a call to receive a fax.
In addition, most registries also provide the names and phone numbers of clients’ emergency contacts. This is crucial right now, so that doctors can easily begin their contact with clients’ families.
The DocuBank wallet card also displays clients’ allergies and medical conditions, so their medical needs can be tended to promptly. And through their card, clients also have the opportunity to store and share additional medical information that is helpful to their doctors: their medication list, medical history, list of physicians and even family history. This information is especially helpful to physicians now, when the family isn’t present to help provide it.
The coronavirus has taken these somewhat sleepy legal-medical documents, the advance directives, and moved them from the back burner to the front burner in caring for clients. At this time of Covid-19, you have an opportunity to prepare your clients by making sure that their directives are up-to-date and that clients can have instant, digital access to them at any hospital they may go to.
Randi J. Siegel, MBA, is the President of DocuBank® (docubank.com), which ensures that the emergency information and healthcare directives of its 250,000+ enrollees are available 24/7/365 through the largest advance directives registry in the U.S., as well as access to an online safe for storage of digital assets and other vital documents. Working with estate planning professionals since 1997, Randi frequently speaks at national estate planning conferences and has appeared on radio and television as an authority on registries. A member of the Philadelphia Estate Planning Council, the International Society of Advance Care Planning and the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, Randi is active in health education and public engagement related to advance care planning/advance directives. She serves as Pennsylvania liaison to the National Healthcare Decisions Day initiative and as a board member of the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly. Randi is an ongoing contributor to the Academy blog.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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