Bar Association Launches App To Help Keep Medical Documents Handy

The American Bar Association's new mobile app puts a copy of a person's advance directive, a legal document often needed in medical emergencies but not at hand in the moment, within arm's reach.

It’s good to keep a copy of your advance directive around—you never know when you’ll need it.

But the legal document, designed to let doctors and loved ones know of your treatment wishes in a medical emergency, often isn’t easily accessible. In other words, a document that may mean the difference between life and death may be hard to get a hold of—and that could be a problem.

But now (wait for it …) there’s an app for that. The American Bar Association’s new My Health Care Wishes app, available for Android and iOS, puts this important medical information on something you’re likely to have with you at all times—your smartphone—but with the same weight as the paper document.

The app, which comes in “lite” and “pro” editions, allows users to store copies of advance directives locally and (in the pro edition) via Dropbox.

ABA President Jim Silkenat told The New York Times that he didn’t know where his advance directive was until recently, meaning he was a perfect user for the app. Fortunately, the association’s Commission on Law and Aging already had an app in the works. Thus far, he’s found the results promising.

“We’ve tested this with healthcare providers, family members, health insurers,” he told The Times. “So far it’s worked well.”

To ensure that people who need access to the document have it in case of an emergency, the ABA offers a wallet-sized card [PDF] for users to record the necessary information in analog form—you know, just in case.

My Health Care Wishes isn’t the only game in town—other options include the free MyDirectives and the subscription-based Docubank—but the app, available for $3.99 in pro form, could open up a new business model for the ABA. And that might come in handy too.

(American Bar Assocaition/iStock Editorial/iStockphoto)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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