Apr 16 2014

It’s National Healthcare Decisions Day!

Last week, we posted about a nationwide initiative that we’re extremely proud to be part of: National Healthcare Decisions Day. NHDD, happening today, April 16, is an entire day dedicated to educating people across the country about advance care planning. MyDirectives has partnered with more than 1,500 fellow organizations helping to raise awareness about the need for advance directives. We sat down with the founder of NHDD for a short interview.

An avid advocate and voice for healthcare planning since his college days, Nathan Kottkamp is a health law practitioner, and is the founder and chair of National Healthcare Decisions Day. He decided to launch this initiative in 2008 to encourage more people to consider just how important it is to prepare one’s family and oneself for an unpredictable future.


MyDirectives: When and how did you decide to start National Healthcare Decisions Day?

Nathan: National Healthcare Decisions Day kicked off on April 16, 2008, but the idea behind it was a long time in the making. I first learned about advance directives in college and made one myself when I was 20. However, it wasn’t until I got much older that I realized that a lot of folks don’t even know how important creating one is. In 2006, I founded Virginia Advance Directives Day, which had the same basic mission as NHDD. That first year, we got every hospital in Virginia to participate! After the second year of success, I felt confident that we could – and that we had a responsibility to – take the idea to the national level.

MyDirectives: Tell us about the successes National Healthcare Decisions Day has seen since 2008.

Nathan: We’ve grown dramatically. In our first six years, we know that millions of people have been exposed to advance care planning issues, roughly 30,000 advance directives have been completed, and the initiative has effectively become a holiday for many providers.

MyDirectives: Why do you think it’s important for people to create an advance directive?

Nathan: I’ve served as a member of many hospital ethics committees and have far too often met families, healthcare providers, and hospital administrators who were unsure of how to proceed with treating a patient who never made his or her healthcare wishes known. An advance directive allows others to know what the patient’s medical preferences are, including whom a patient has appointed as primary decision-maker when and if the patient is unable to communicate. National Healthcare Decisions Day was created to inspire people to start conversations with their loved ones about advance directives and their healthcare-related wishes before a crisis.

MyDirectives: How do you see NHDD evolving over time?

Nathan: Our efforts to reach more and more people – of all ages – about the critical need to document your medical wishes will only grow larger with all of the new online platforms that are emerging these days. The idea of NHDD is that it shouldn’t just be celebrated on a single day, but should be a philosophy guiding people’s sense of preparation and conversation about healthcare priorities all year long. April 16 is just a trigger to make sure everyone knows about the topic, and we hope that you will help us spread the word today and all year long!


Thank you, Nathan for being such a huge part of the advance care planning movement! Together, we will encourage people to consider, talk with their loves, and document and update their medical wishes. Everyone deserves to live their lives with the peace of knowing that we’re prepared and that our loved ones understand our most serious wishes.

Don’t forget to join us today with the five steps we suggested in our last blog post! We can’t wait to hear how making an advance directive changed you and your perspectives. Let the world know about how you’ve taken charge of your life. Once you have, share it with us via Facebook or Twitter!


Advance Directives Healthcare Healthcare Planning Healthcare Priorities Hospital Ethics Medical Wishes MyDirectives Nathan Kottkamp National Healthcare Decisions Day NHDD Patient Virginia Advance Directives Day

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  1. Bruce posted at May 30 2014 03:18 PM
    Hi. Could you send me an example of state legislation establishing nat'l healthcare directive day? Thanks.

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