ER Doctors Can't Find Advance Directives in Electronic Health Records!

By: Michael Wall

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) fail to provide access to most patients’ advance directives in the ER according to two recently published studies in the Journal of Palliative Medicine. Most hospitals have switched over to computerized systems, but the data shows those systems do an abysmal job of making your clients’ advance directives accessible to doctors.

The first study looked at patients over 65 and found that 59% completed an advance directive, but the ER staff could only locate the advance directive for 13% in the EHR. That means that the ER failed to obtain the advance directive for more than ¾ of the patients that completed one.

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February 9, 2017 | Advance Care Planning Research, Advance Care Planning News | Comments(0)

Studies on Health Care Surrogates Provide Marketing Opportunities for Estate Planning Attorneys

By: Randi Siegel

My guest blog post this month for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys analyzes two studies that found that health care surrogates are called on to make medical decisions very frequently. You can use these results in your marketing to new clients or as an opportunity to reconnect with existing clients. Read the full article here

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September 19, 2016 | Advance Care Planning Research, Estate Planning / Elder Law Marketing | Comments(1)

Computerized Records Don’t Make Clients’ Advance Directives Available

By: Michael Wall

Electronic medical records are not the answer to making clients’ advance directives easily available at a hospital when they’re needed, according to a recent news report. Contrary to what we all might assume, most physicians cannot get their patients’ advance directives easily—if at all—through electronic health records (EHRs).

In a USA Today article, Kaiser Health News uncovered a surprising set of technical problems that stand in the way. 

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April 28, 2016 | Advance Care Planning Research, Advance Care Planning News, DocuBank | Comments(0)

Important Medicare Policy Change for Your Clients and Your Firm

By: Randi Siegel

Beginning in 2016, Medicare will pay doctors to have conversations with their patients about their advance care planning. This change opens the door for you to work more directly with your clients’ doctors -- good news for your clients and your practice. We thought you might appreciate a summary of this new Medicare benefit so that you can help your clients, and also make the most of this new opportunity.

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April 1, 2016 | Advance Care Planning News, DocuBank | Comments(0)

ER Docs LOVE Advance Directives: Marketing Opportunity

By: Randi Siegel

My guest blog post this month for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys is about just how badly ER doctors want their patients to have easily accessible advance directives, according to a recent study. Read the full article here.

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January 14, 2016 | Advance Care Planning Research, Advance Care Planning News | Comments(0)

Tips to Help Clients Lighten up the Conversation on Advance Care Planning

By: Randi Siegel

My guest blog post this month for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys offers some lighter ideas for ways family and friends can bring up the subject of advance care planning during the holidays. Read the full article here.

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December 15, 2015 | Advance Care Planning Tools | Comments(2)

From ESPN to Dr. House: A Selection of Randi Siegel's Articles on End-of-Life Issues

By: Randi Siegel

Please check out a selection of my blog posts for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys from earlier this year that we haven’t posted here previously.

February's post, Not Too Macho for Meaning: A Sports Anchor Shares Lessons About Life, calls attention to Stuart Scott’s acceptance speech at the ESPYs before his untimely death a few months later after a long battle with cancer.

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November 16, 2015 | Advance Care Planning News, Advance Care Planning Policy | Comments(0)

ER Doctors Want You to Have an Advance Directive!

By: Randi Siegel

ER doctors want you to have an advance directive!  

A recent survey of emergency medicine physicians has found that 85% believe having an advance directive helps ensure better quality patient care. And 88% felt that patients’ families were more comfortable with how doctors cared for their loved ones when there was an advance directive on file.

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November 12, 2015 | Advance Care Planning Research, Advance Care Planning News | Comments(0)

JAMA Oncology Study Reveals Health Care Agents are Flying Blind

By: Randi Siegel

recent study from JAMA Oncology presented some significant findings for the world of estate planning – between 2000 and 2012, the number of people with cancer creating health care power of attorneys has gone up, the number of end-of-life care conversations has stayed the same, and the number of people receiving “all care possible” has dramatically increased. My blog post delves into the possible reasons behind these numbers and how estate planning attorneys can help ensure their clients’ documents are being properly utilized. You can read the article on the Academy blog.

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August 12, 2015 | Advance Care Planning Research | Comments(0)

What Can Tom Brokaw Teach us About Advance Directives?

By: Randi Siegel

My monthly guest blog post for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys was just published! This month’s article is Do Your Clients Have the Same Problems as Tom Brokaw? Working off of a 2012 TED Talk between Brokaw and his daughter, Dr. Jennifer Brokaw, about advance care planning, it lays out the steps to take once an advance directive has been created to ensure its effectiveness – where to store it and who to tell about it. You can read the article on the Academy blog.

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June 15, 2015 | Advance Care Planning News | Comments(0)

Jeb Bush Suggests Medicare Beneficiaries be Required to Complete an Advance Directive

By: Randi Siegel

My monthly guest blog post for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys was recently published! This month’s article is Jeb Bush’s Advance Care Planning Surprise. It talks about Bush’s interesting statement on advance care planning and Medicare at a forum in Manchester, NH, and the potential implications of his words. You can read the article on the Academy blog.

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June 11, 2015 | Advance Care Planning Policy | Comments(0)

Ask Yourself Important Questions this National Healthcare Decisions Day

By: Randi Siegel

Today is National Healthcare Decisions Day!

This a day to ask yourself a few very important questions:

  • Do you have advance directives (healthcare power of attorney, living will, HIPAA) yet?
  • Have you spoken with your appointed healthcare surrogate about your care wishes and goals should you be unable to make decisions for yourself?
  • Do they and other loved ones know where you keep your directives?
  • Do you have an older relative or loved one who has not yet had this conversation with you?

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April 16, 2015 | NHDD (Nat'l Healthcare Decisions Day), Advance Care Planning News | Comments(0)

Dying Needn’t Be So Brutal. Boomer, Arise!

By: Randi Siegel

My monthly guest blog post for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys was just published! This month’s article is Dying Needn’t Be So Brutal. Boomer, Arise! It discusses a recent study that found that people are dying in more pain and with more psychological distress than they were twenty years ago. It also looks at an op-ed written by Dr. Ira Byock, a palliative care expert, about what should be done. You can read the article on the Academy blog.

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March 10, 2015 | Advance Care Planning Policy | Comments(0)

New Facebook feature lets users assign a digital heir

By: Michael Wall

Facebook has introduced a new feature that gives its users more control over their Facebook pages after they pass away. Users can now designate a “legacy contact” to manage their account. The legacy contact must be an existing Facebook user, and they’ll be able to add a post to the top of the page to memorialize the person, change their profile picture, and accept new friend requests. 

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February 18, 2015 | Advance Care Planning Tools, Advance Care Planning News, DocuBank | Comments(0)

New Year’s Resolution: Employ Advance Directives Marketing This Year

By: Randi Siegel

My monthly guest blog post for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys was just published! This month’s article is New Year’s Resolution: Employ Advance Directives Marketing This Year. It focuses on different outreach ideas for getting the word out about the importance of advance directives with both current and potential clients. You can read the article on the Academy blog.

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January 13, 2015 | Advance Care Planning Tools | Comments(0)

Medical Decision-making Controversies Your Clients May Be Talking About

By: Randi Siegel

My monthly guest blog post for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys was just published! This month’s article is Medical Decision-making Controversies Your Clients May Be Talking About. It focuses on the controversial article written by Ezekiel Emanuel, M.D., entitled Why I Hope to Die at 75. You can read the article on the Academy blog.

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November 13, 2014 | Advance Care Planning News | Comments(0)

Wisconsin Public Radio Airing 5-part Series on Death

By: Randi Siegel

Over the next few weeks, Wisconsin Public Radio, a branch of NPR, will be hosting a five-part series on death on their program, To the Best of Our Knowledge. Each part will focus on one aspect of how Americans deal with death.

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November 10, 2014 | Advance Care Planning News | Comments(0)

New Orleans Attorney Shares DocuBank Story with Sophisticated Woman Magazine

By: Randi Siegel

Ronda Gabb has provided DocuBank for her clients for more than 15 years, and she recently shared her personal experience with the service in an article published in Sophisticated Women Magazine.

Ms. Gabb used her DocuBank Emergency Card when she went in for surgery last month. She wrote about how it felt to be the one in that position, worrying about all the what-ifs that go along with a major medical procedure, and how thankful she was that she had already taken care of her own estate planning documents. “The best part of all,” she concluded, “was that none of it was needed…but the comfort of knowing it was all there ‘just in case’ was priceless."

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September 5, 2014 | DocuBank | Comments(0)

Delaware Law Provides Access to Digital Assets to Legal Executors

By: Randi Siegel

In addition to appointing a health care agent to take care of medical needs and an executor to take care of affairs after they're gone, citizens of Delaware can now also appoint a digital executor -- to look after their digital assets such as online bank accounts, social media accounts and email accounts.

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August 25, 2014 | Advance Care Planning News, Advance Care Planning Policy | Comments(0)

Delaware Enacts Law to Promote Inclusion for People With Disabilities

By: Randi Siegel

Delaware recently passed new legislation to enhance the dignity of disability-related laws by changing the word choices used in existing laws. The initiative is called People First Language, or PFL, and its key point is to make sure that even in just the phrasing of a law, the person -- and not their disability -- comes first. For example, laws should refer to “people with disabilities,” as opposed to “disabled people.”

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August 7, 2014 | Advance Care Planning Policy, Special Needs Planning | Comments(0)

Colleague Corner: Jim McVittie on DocuBank and LGBT Clients

By: Tiffany Brown

In our first Colleague Corner post, Jim McVittie talks about one of the reasons he began providing DocuBank for his clients. 

In my area I specialize in serving the LGBT community. The main reason I started providing DocuBank is because a large portion of my client base consists of same-sex couples as well as unmarried opposite-sex couples. I recognized that their DocuBank membership, and the documents stored therein, would be an integral part in my client’s ability to prove the legal authority of the non-ill partner to physicians and hospital staff. In addition to the health care authorization forms that I prepare for my clients, DocuBank stores my client’s domestic partnership agreements, certificate of registered domestic partnership or marriage certificate.

As a result, my clients have not had any problems with their agent’s authority being recognized. In addition, a number of our clients are medical professionals, doctors, nurses, and emergency room physicians. I’m always amazed when those medical professionals tell me they wish everyone had something like DocuBank.

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June 18, 2014 | Advance Care Planning Tools | Comments(0)

AMA Recommends Paying Doctors for End-of Life Conversations

By: Randi Siegel

The idea of Medicare payment for advance care planning is not new, but past efforts to put such programs into place have been stymied (think “death panels”). A new proposal from the AMA may change that, recommending that doctors who take the time to discuss end-of-life care with their patients be paid for their efforts.

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June 6, 2014 | Advance Care Planning News, Advance Care Planning Policy | Comments(0)

New Study Analyzes How End-of-Life Choices Change Over Time

By: Randi Siegel

A new study about end-of-life choices has some interesting things to say about how people’s wishes change (or don’t) over time. Most people’s preferences seem to stay the same over the years.  But -- the groups most likely to change were those who were healthy when they first made their preferences known, and those who originally wanted more intensive care. You can read more about the study at JAMA Internal Medicine

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June 4, 2014 | Advance Care Planning Research, Advance Care Planning News | Comments(0)

2 Pitfalls in Getting Clients Their Desired Results from Advance Directives

By: Randi Siegel

My monthly guest blog post for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys was just published! This month’s is 2 Pitfalls in Getting Clients Their Desired Results from Advance Directives. You can read the article on the Academy blog

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May 28, 2014 | Advance Care Planning Research | Comments(0)

Don't Take Our Word For It

By: Tiffany Brown

I was recently in Orlando visiting with a group of attorneys I hadn’t seen in several years. It’s amazing how having kids will cut in to your travel time. It was good to see some familiar faces and meet some of our partner firms for the first time face to face. And I had an opportunity to present information on our new services and features, and talk about our new video. It was quick, easy and well received. Just like all good presentations should be.

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October 18, 2013 | DocuBank | Comments(0)

Furry Friends Help Patients Feel Better

By: Tiffany Brown

According to a recent article on USAToday.com, more hospitals are expanding hospital visitation to include canines.

Therapy dogs have been helping patients for years. 

“Research has shown that therapy dogs can have measurable health benefits in patients. In a 2007 study, 76 adults with advanced heart failure received either a 12-minute visit from a volunteer with a therapy dog, a 12-minute visit from a volunteer only or 12 minutes of their usual care.

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July 16, 2013 | Advance Care Planning Research, Advance Care Planning News, Advance Care Planning Policy | Comments(0)

How Will Law Schools Teach Estate Planning and Elder Law?

By: Randi Siegel

Will elder law will become much more about capacity matters and much less about Medicaid planning? This is one suggestion resulting from The Association of American Law Schools' academic symposium looking at the future of estate law and elder law as our population ages. The AALS undertook this project as a way to plan future law school curriculum in these areas. The result is Capacity, Conflict, and Change: Elder Law and Estate Planning Themes in an Aging World, now available online in the 2012-13 Symposium Issue of the Penn State Law Review.

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May 8, 2013 | Estate Planning / Elder Law Marketing | Comments(0)

Senior Designations for Financial Advisors

By: Randi Siegel

Thursday, May 9,  from 3-4 p.m. EDT, the Consumer Fraud Protection Bureau is hosting a Twitter chat about “senior designations” used by financial advisers who imply that they specialize in giving advice to seniors. This twitter chat comes on the heels of the CFPB's report last month on this topic.. You can get some community service exposure, and the report might be useful in helping you guide clients toward appropriate financial advisors and steer them away from inappropriate ones. 

CFPB’s directions:  “Use the #SeniorMoney hashtag.  You can join the conversation and help seniors by suggesting resources, answering questions, and providing moral support. You can participate wherever you are -- just watch your Twitter feed and respond to questions and comments with the hashtag #SeniorMoney. Follow us on Twitter -- we're @cfpb -- and on May 9, be ready with tips, answers, and opinions for seniors.”

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May 8, 2013 | Estate Planning / Elder Law Marketing | Comments(0)

Reimbursement for Advance Care Planning Proposed in U.S. Congress

By: Randi Siegel

The bipartisan advance care planning bill just introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would provide reimbursement for periodic advance care planning under Medicare and Medicaid.Specifically, The Personalize Your Care Act would cover reimbursement for voluntary consultations with patients about advance care planning and end of life care every 5 years or upon a change in the patient’s health status. Proposed by Rep. Earl Blumenauer with bipartisan cosponsors on March 14, 2013, the bill would also help states establish or expand their programs for Physician’s Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) and help ensure that electronic medical records can display patients’ advance directives and POLST documents.

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March 17, 2013 | Advance Care Planning News, Advance Care Planning Policy | Comments(0)

More Spending on Advanced Cancer May Not Improve Survival Rates

By: Randi Siegel
A new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute did not find a link between increased survival rates and more spending on patients with advanced cancer.  (It looked at Medicare patients with advanced cancer of a variety of types, dividing them by geographic regions and then into 5 groups based on the amount spent on their care.)  The differences in patient survival by region were not statistically significant; however, the amount spent on their care by varied by 30 – 40%.
 
In light of these findings, the authors suggest that healthcare providers adjust the care provided to patients with advanced cancer.  Specifically, they should reduce “potentially avoidable hospitalizations,” which were a major source of the increased spending, and also increase “timely access to palliative care for patients with advanced cancer," both of which are part of providing more "patient-centered care." 

 

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March 13, 2013 | Advance Care Planning Research | Comments(0)

Assisted Suicide Legislation on the Rise

By: Tiffany Brown

A recent AP article reports that 6 states (maybe yours) now have bills to legalize physician-assisted suicide working their way through the legislative process. 

The article does not take a position on what can be a very volatile subject, but rather focuses on the impetus for these legislative developments and touches on the 3 states in which assisted suicide is already legal.   

With all of this pending legislation, there are a number of articles on this topic recently, including some in the Wall Street Journal. You can find links to the WSJ pieces here. To learn more about the illegal or legal status of assisted suicide in your state (as of Dec. 2012), see pro/con.org.

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March 12, 2013 | Advance Care Planning News | Comments(0)

Death Cafes Raise Awareness of End-of-Life Topics

By: Michael Wall

Sipping on a cup of Joe makes talking about about anything in life easier, including death. That's the idea behind Death Cafes: candid discussions about death that are being held at coffee shops and other locations around the world.

The conversations are usually organized and facilitated by an expert in the field, such as Lizzy Miles, a hospice volunteer and social worker who organizes Death Cafes around Columbus, OH.  "The goal is to raise death awareness with the view of helping people make the most of their lives," said Miles.

 

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March 8, 2013 | Advance Care Planning News | Comments(0)

Health Journalist's Firsthand Encounter with End-of-Life Decisions

By: Randi Siegel

In "How Mom's Death Changed My Thinking About End-of-Life Care," journalist Charles Ornstein thoughtfully presents how his personal experience with the uncertainties of medical diagnosis, treatment, futility, end-of-life decisions for his mother differed from his objective, clearer views on these subjects as a veteran health-care reporter. He candidly shares his new-found appreciation for the intense difficulty of figuring out  how to apply her general wishes to her specific medical situation -- about whether to try treatments and/or when to stop trying.  He also shares insights about the role of hope and a new understanding of "how little the costs to t he broader health-care system matter to the family of a patient."  Mr. Ornstein is also current board president of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

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March 1, 2013 | Advance Care Planning News, Advance Care Planning Policy | Comments(0)

Thanks to Our Advisory Boards - Outgoing and Incoming

By: Tiffany Brown

 In our over 2 decades doing of business, we've worked hard to ensure that we not only meet the expectations of our users -- we exceed them.  One very important tool that helps us achieve this goal is our Advisory Board of estate planning professionals. A few years ago, we asked several longtime DocuBank providers to offer their insights and feedback on our services, and they became our first Advisory Board members.  We recently said a fond farewell to this group and would like to extend a huge THANK YOU for two wonderful years of service from:

Bradley B Anderson, Anderson, Dorn & Rader, LLC, Reno, NV
Joseph “Chip” Buxton, III, TrustBuilders Law Group, Urbanna, VA
Peter Gilbert, Highpoint Law Offices, P.C., Chalfont, PA
Catherine Hammond, Hammond Law Group, LLC, Colorado Springs, CO
Jerry Shiles, Parman & Easterday, Oklahoma City, OK
Michael H. Smith, Smith Baird, LLC, Savannah, GA
Jim Strull, Strull Law Group, LLC, Hackensack, NJ
  

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February 19, 2013 | DocuBank | Comments(0)

The Conversation Project

By: Tiffany Brown

The Conversation Project has some great tools to help anyone -- including clients -- start the difficult talk with loved ones about end-of-life care wishes. The free Starter Kit gently coaches people on how to have this conversation. And its short worksheets help people think in simple, non-medical terms about their goals at the end of life and for living with advanced illness.

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January 31, 2013 | Advance Care Planning News, Estate Planning / Elder Law Marketing | Comments(0)

NHDD is April 16

By: Randi Siegel

“Nothing in life is certain but death and taxes,” - Benjamin Franklin

With Mr. Franklin’s words in mind, it’s only fitting that April 16, the day after “Tax Day,” is also the date of the fifth annual National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD). Founded in 2008, this grassroots initiative is committed to raising public awareness about the importance of advance directives and advance care planning. Since its inception, NHDD has gained momentum and helped keep the national spotlight on this important cause.

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April 4, 2012 | NHDD (Nat'l Healthcare Decisions Day) | Comments(0)