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.

One obvious explanation is that the patients never provided their advance directive to the hospital, so therefore it wasn’t in the EHR. Not so, according to the research. The patient’s advance directive couldn’t be found in 69% of the cases where they reported previously giving their document to the hospital. Needless to say, these are numbers that do not work in favor of your clients.

Many clients may feel they’re protected since their primary care doctor is in the same network as the hospital, and theoretically that would make it easy for the hospital to obtain their directive. Again, the data refutes this logical assumption. Shockingly, the advance care planning document could not be found for nearly 80% of the patients whose primary doctor was part of the same hospital system as the Emergency Department.

The second study surveyed ER physicians and shows they are aware of electronic records' poor track record with advance directives. Fewer than 1/3 of ER doctors were "very confident” or "extremely confident" that they could find patients’ advance directives or other ACP documentation in the EHRwhen it exists.

Advance directives provide critical information to your clients’ doctors and family members about your clients’ wishes. A 2015 survey found that 93% of ER doctors feel “less frustrated” and 88% felt the patients’ family members were “more satisfied” with the medical care when the advance directive is available. This glaring failure of EHRs creates an information gap that frustrates your clients’ doctors and stresses their loved ones.

The alarming results of these studies reinforce the importance of providing your clients immediate access to their advance directives with DocuBank. Your clients’ emergency wallet card gives hospitals and doctors all the instructions they need to instantly obtain your client’s advance directive from any hospital, regardless of the EHR. Your clients are always protected in a medical emergency 24/7/365.

If you’re already providing DocuBank to your clients, use these studies to tell your clients about this EHR problem and the solution for their advance directives that you've given them! This is the perfect opportunity to remind them why you provided a DocuBank card and membership. Contact us for free newsletter content and publish it on your blog, print it in your next newsletter, or design a marketing campaign and mail it to clients you haven't heard from in a while. 

If you aren’t currently offering clients a DocuBank card, contact us at 610-667-3524 or email me to learn more.

February 9, 2017 | Advance Care Planning Research, Advance Care Planning News