Tuesday, May 17, 2011

End-of-Life Planning and Technology

My husband, an electrical engineer, is always curious about the intersection of estate planning and technology. Given his field of work, he is often amazed at the lack of technology in my practice. Wills have to be on paper! But alas, here is a development that combines the traditional elements of estate planning, a living will, with technology.

"Some physicians resist advance care planning out of concern that addressing these issues will rob patients of much-needed hope, Mr. Hozella said. "There is also concern that advance directive documents are poor representations of patients' values and goals, and hence are often not useful for dealing with complex medical decisions that may arise during end-of-life care.

"We've found that a computer-based decision aid can help patients learn about and work through key issues in end-of-life planning, generate an advance directive document that accurately reflects their wishes for end-of-life care, and do so in a way that does not diminish their sense of hope," he said. "This decision aid was designed to address the advance care planning needs of patients, regardless of their medical condition.

"The present study shows that patients with COPD are among those who will benefit from the use of this CDA," he added. "These findings should encourage clinicians, patients and patients' families to use our computer-based decision aid to engage in effective advance care planning."

While this article indicates an increased awareness, I wonder if it will really make a difference? For whatever reason, people, healthy or ill, young or old, do not like to actually sit down and put these thoughts on paper....or in this case, digital media.

1 comment:

CJ said...

Someone should write an estate planning app.

I respect the legal professions prudence about moving things to new technologies, but IMHO they need to look at each technology on a case-by-case basis and decide whether its benefits outweigh the risk.