MyDirectives

Jul 23 2013

Guest Post: Using MyDirectives in My Practice

Guest Post by Dr. Ryan Neuhofel

As a family physician one of my primary roles is planning for the future. Helping people live long, productive and healthy lives is what drives me every day. I try to catch diseases before they show signs and symptoms. I prescribe medications to prevent chronic diseases from ravaging the body. I tell people to wear life-jackets when boating.

Unfortunately, much like a financial advisor giving advice on the stock market, things don’t always go according to plan.

Even as a young physician, I have witnessed many tragic and untimely deaths. After witnessing just a few heart-wrenching family squabbles over an imminent death, I recognized the importance of emergency and advance care planning. Most people don’t like to consider those messy situations until it’s too late – after the diagnosis or the accident.

I get it. It’s not my idea of a relaxing Thursday evening either.

Throughout my years of training and practice, I have recommended hundreds of patients consider and document their medical wishes. Sadly, I’m guessing only a handful of people turned my advice into action. Completing a comprehensive and thorough advance medical directive document can be a daunting task. Even people who understand its importance, usually avoid doing so because of time or money constraints. Without specific resources or instructions, my recommendations were rarely fruitful.

In 2011, I started a solo, direct primary care family practice: NeuCare Family Medicine. I created a high-tech, yet old-fashioned, practice that was nearly paperless. I now do house calls by car and by webcam. New patients register online; completing standard demographics and health history.

Upon registration I ask about existing advance medical directives. Not surprisingly, only 5-10% of my patients have anything more than an organ donation preference. While I continued to recommend many patients create an advance directive at their initial visit – I struggled to give them good resources to complete this task. I tried recommending several paper templates, but their legal-ease was confusing and overwhelming -- and ended up in the garbage.

Then I discovered MyDirectives.com.

MyDirectives made things shockingly simple. Their interactive questionnaire was thorough, on-point and written in plain English. It was basically like having a conference with your doctor and attorney -- a frightening and expensive proposition in real life, made easy and painless by MyDirectives. Once done answering some straightforward questions, a complete advance medical directive is promptly presented.

Directives hidden in a dresser-drawer aren’t much use. The high-tech sharing feature is what really makes MyDirectives shine. Patients can share their document with family, friends and their doctors.

After reaching out to MyDirectives, I was contacted by their team who advised me on how to integrate their service with my practice. After encouraging people to check it out on my blog, I had several patients complete their directives for the first time. Using our code or link, our patients can automatically share their document with us; so we can add it to their medical records. Also, we have inserted MyDirectives into our online registration in an effort to get all new patients on-board.

I haven’t yet convinced everyone to create and share an advance medical directive -- but at least now they do not have an excuse not to complete their directive.

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Dr. Ryan Neuhofel (Dr. Neu) was born, raised and (mostly) educated in Kansas. After serving as Chief Resident in Family Medicine at KU-Med in Kansas City, he promptly moved to the coolest town on either side of the Mississippi to start NeuCare. He now lives in Lawrence with his wife, 2 kids and 1 Labrador Retriever. When not cleaning up after his children or dog, he enjoys cooking, fine ales and the great outdoors.


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Dr. Neu NeuCare Ryan Neuhofel


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