In a decade defined by technological advancements, the field of healthcare has undergone significant changes. From a transformational shift towards telehealth, to robot-assisted surgeries, to using AI to analyse radiographs and reveal data patterns in disease to aid treatment and care. However, despite these innovations, patients and their healthcare providers continue to face some fundamental challenges, for instance understanding the wishes of a patient regarding their care when they are not able to communicate them.
The UK’s Mental Capacity Act of 2005 promotes personal agency in medical decision-making where possible. The act respects autonomy while considering individual capacity and circumstance. But of course, in cases of sudden accidents or incapacitating medical conditions, a patient may lack the ability to make decisions regarding their care and the decision-making power falls to the next of kin.
This can put a significant emotional burden on the next of kin, particularly when the health preferences of loved ones are unknown. Such situations can result in emotionally charged choices, sometimes even leading to family disagreements, a scenario that could potentially be avoided if individuals had an easier way to share their care preferences.
In turn, this can create challenges for healthcare professionals who are relying on the care preferences being shared with them so that they can take the right course of action. And, of course, the most concerning risk is that the personal wishes of the patient aren’t followed.
Privacy vs Access
When thinking about preparing for the future, in a medical sense, there can be a mental ‘tug of war’ between keeping medical preferences private vs providing potential caregivers with access. Sharing end-of-life medical preferences, for example, can cause emotional distress to loved ones, which an individual may wish to avoid until absolutely necessary. And of course, there’s always the chance that our preferences may change, which could cause confusion and lead to disagreements.
The common saying that ‘timing is crucial’ rings true when sharing preferences about care. That’s why it’s critical that people prepare their medical documentation and guidance around their care wishes, so their loved one have the information to hand when they need to make those decisions.
A new approach to digitalise the sharing of one’s medical preferences post-incapacitation involves a digital trustee process. Saving these important documents down in a secure file, the trustee release control process only grants the designated beneficiaries access when a trustee confirms that the original owner of the document is incapacitated, and the information needs to be transferred over.
At its heart, this technology empowers individuals to distribute their private health information when others need to make informed decisions regarding their care. This affords people control over their private healthcare information, which many of us prefer even when it comes to our closest friends and family members.
Empowerment through digital trustee planning
In a whirlwind of daily activities, thinking about the future – particularly our future health or lack thereof often takes a backseat. Take the fact that just 44% of Brits currently have a Will. Many of us do not take the time to plan for what happens if and when we become ill or pass away.
But of course, incapacitation is rarely anticipated. So, embracing this sobering truth and selecting a strategy that communicates health-related decisions to next of kin can empower all of those involved in decisions making.
The digital trustee process serves as a way of arming loved ones when they potentially need to make important medical decisions in the unfortunate circumstance that their next of kin falls ill or has an accident. And in contrast to writing such wishes on paper notes, for instance, which can get lost or might be hard to access when needed – this encrypted approach makes the process secure and seamless.
Technology in the healthcare industry has improved numerous medical procedures, but people and their families should also think about how they can use it to prepare for the moments when they will need to give people more control over their healthcare decisions.
By solving the privacy vs accessibility dilemma when it comes to personal healthcare data, it’s possible to imagine a future where the use of the digital trustee process becomes the norm and where one’s medical preferences can be securely and privately stored, then shared. In this vision for the future, we will also be able to offer a greater sense of dignity to those in need of care.
About the author
Paul Rossini is the CEO and Co-Founder of AssetPass, the world’s leading digital asset platform. Paul has over 14 years of experience as a pioneer in the crypto space and as a leading innovator for Digital Legacy, having built the first ever digital trustee company back in 2009. AssetPass is transforming digital asset recovery and digital legacy management with an end-to-end encrypted platform with its unique trustee release control process (TRCP) that empowers individuals to pass on their digital assets securely and privately to beneficiaries.
The post Digitally Safeguarding your Care Preferences appeared first on .