Apr 16 2015

Today is National Healthcare Decisions Day!

April 16 marks National Healthcare Decisions Day – a day designed to educate people about advance care planning. Once again, MyDirectives is joining more than 1,500 fellow organizations to help raise awareness about the need for all people 18 and older to create advance directives.

We’re honored to sit down again this year with NHDD founder Nathan Kottkamp to talk about updates and innovations over the past year. An attorney who focuses on healthcare law, Nathan has been an advocate for healthcare planning since his college days.

MyDirectives: What progress in advance care planning have you seen in the last year that you’d like to highlight on the occasion of National Healthcare Decisions Day? 

Nathan: We are achieving our goal of normalizing this issue. Indeed, every year, we see more and more media, social media, and other engagement with the topic of advance care planning.  Advance care planning was avoided in the media and public discourse for far too long, and it is wonderful to see greater comfort with discussing this. Of course, the Institute of Medicine’s Dying in America report further helped to legitimize the reasons for National Healthcare Decisions Day.

MyDirectives: What advice would you give someone who is new to advance care planning?

Nathan: Just start the conversation using whatever means you can. The NHDD website,, has a variety of conversation starters and other tools. For many people it is enough to mark your calendar, gather your family on April 16 and merely say, “We need to talk about our healthcare choices.”  In many cases, all it takes is a spark to develop an incredibly rich conversation. 

*MyDirectives has some conversation starters too!

MyDirectives: What challenges to advance care planning does National Healthcare Decisions Day seek to address?

Nathan: First and foremost, by creating an “excuse” to engage in advance care planning, we address, head-on, the most common reasons why the process doesn’t happen: we’re too busy, it’s not the “right time,” we’re not sick at the moment, we’re not “old,” we don’t know how to raise the topic, etc. None of these are good reasons for not engaging in advance care planning. Second, we seek to be sure that providers fully engage people with advance care planning to be sure that their choices are appropriately incorporated into care.

MyDirectives: What would you like to see change between the present and a year from now at the 9th annual National Healthcare Decisions Day?

Nathan: I look forward to more coverage in state and local media—and a huge social media initiative. I want to see NHDD to go “viral.”

Don’t forget to see how you can digitize your advance care planning by checking out MyDirectives’ recent NHDD blog post! Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter and share you and your loved ones’ stories on advance care planning. Your words may encourage others to do the same!


Advance Care Planning Nathan Kottkamp National Healthcare Decisions Day NHDD

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