Health care decisions can be difficult under the best of circumstances, but they’re even harder when patients can’t speak for themselves.
In Colorado, the law says that no one is approved automatically to make medical decisions for another adult if they are unable to make those decisions for themselves – not even spouses, adult children, or other family members.
“Having the individual let us know who they trust to make medical decisions is the most important step and knowing how they would like us to care for them in case they are not able to make their own decisions is so important,’’ said Dr. Hillary Lum, physician and associate professor of medicine in the University of Colorado School of Medicine Division of Geriatric Medicine.
To help individuals take the next steps when they are ready, UCHealth has tools available through My Health Connection, the personalized and secure online access to an individual’s medical record.
Through the Advance Care Planning tools in My Health Connection, individuals can:
- Complete an electronic Medical Durable Power of Attorney (MDPOA) form to legally appoint who they trust to make medical decisions for them if they are unable to.
- View and print their electronic MDPOA form.
- View educational Advance Care Planning resources to learn more.
- Upload electronic versions of advance directives.
Once completed in My Health Connection, a MDPOA automatically becomes part of a patient’s medical record so that it is available for the health care team to view as part of the patient’s medical care. Patients are encouraged to share personal values, life goals and preferences regarding future medical decision-making with their health care decision-maker and their health care team.
“One of the most loving acts that you can make for your loved ones is to let your wishes be known,’’ said Adreanne Brungardt, a research assistant in the Division of Geriatric Medicine.
While developing the tools, members of the Advance Care Planning Support team contacted individuals to get their feedback on why they decided to complete Advance Care Planning documents. Here’s some of the feedback:
- “I did it so that no one else could come in and interfere…so that my daughter has my words to back her up if anyone should try to interfere.”
- “It’s definitely of importance because with my medical condition there are times when I cannot make decisions for myself.”
- “There’s nothing worse than putting your family in that situation where they are guessing because if that comes up it’s a hard enough situation as it is.”
Across the country, completion of advance directives remains low despite studies showing that advance care planning improved patient autonomy, satisfaction with care, quality of life at end of life and better psychological outcomes during bereavement.
One of the advantages to the MDPOA being available in My Health Connection is that individuals can fill it out on their own time and with input from loved ones. “It gives people a chance to take their time and have others around to discuss,’’ Brungardt said.
The My Health Connection patient portal represents UCHealth’s commitment to information transparency and seamless communication.
There is no charge to fill out the forms or to receive information. UCHealth patients can reach out to one of their clinic team members, like a social worker or care manager, who can help explain the documents.
UCHealth providers want their patients to be full partners in their healthcare. Their MDPOA online paperwork flows seamlessly into UCHealth’s main Electronic Health Record to be available at all points in a patient’s care at UCHealth.
The initiative to build a platform in a patient’s medical record was funded by The Colorado Health Foundation.
To learn more about advance care planning and to fill out a Medical Durable Power of Attorney form, log into your My Health Connection account, and follow these directions:
Desktop directions for accessing Advance Care Directive tools in My Health Connection
- Log in to My Health Connection or create a new account.
- Open up “Your Menu.”
- Click on “Advance Care Planning” under “Your Record.”
Accessing Advance Care Directive tools in My Health Connection via the UCHealth app
- Log into the UCHealth app.
- Open the menu (three horizontal lines in the top right corner of the app).
- Select “Health record” and click on “Advance care planning” in the drop-down menu.