Did you know that Australia has a Government organisation known as the Australian Digital Health Agency? This is the organisation managing all of our My Health Records and can also be the repository of your Advance Care Planning document (ACP).
What is an Advance Care Planning document?
This is effectively any type of written statement regarding a person’s wishes for their future medical or healthcare treatment. Additionally it may formally appoint a person (decision-maker) who can act or speak on your behalf should you be unable to do so yourself due to illness or injury. These ACP documents can be uploaded to and stored on your My Health Record.
You can state your wishes in an informal hand written or typed document or a more formal one called an Advance Care Directive (ACD) or Advance Health Directive. If you have an ACD recording your wishes for your future medical treatment, you will be able to upload and share this information in your My Health Record. In concept at least this directive will be available to healthcare providers at any time and place it might be needed, notwithstanding that not all healthcare providers will have access to your My Health Record.
Preparing a plan clarifies your wishes and aims to ensure that these wishes are heard. It is not an obligation to upload this plan to your My Health Record, but if you have a My Health Record then this is certainly an option.
Essentially, you can prepare either a formal or informal Advanced Care Plan and it is your choice as to whether you upload this to the My Health website or not.
Should you make a ACP?
There are some questions you may wish to ask yourself and close family such as:
- Who will convey MY wishes if I become very ill and cannot communicate?
- Does my family or long term doctor know my wishes for future medical treatment?
- Who will speak MY voice and convey my message if important decisions have to be made about my medical treatment?
- Do I want the hospital to talk on my behalf if I am not able to do so myself?
If these questions are a concern for you, your ACP will allow for the appointment of someone to be your voice via an enduring guardianship or power of attorney document.
Advance Care Document Custodians
The person that you wish to nominate to speak on your behalf is known as your custodian. You can add the names and contact details of the people who you shared your Advance Care Planning documents with to your My Health Record, so that doctors will be able to contact them should the need arise.
Don’t want the My Health Record?
There is currently a three month opt-out period, which ends on October 15 2018, during which individuals can stop a My Health Record being automatically created for them. After this date, a My Health Record will be created and can’t be deleted.
A number of people attempting to opt-out of having a My Health Record automatically created for them have found that a record already exists in their name. Once established, or if already in existence, the data can’t be deleted. It can only be deactivated. Cancelling the record makes it unavailable, so healthcare providers cannot access it or upload documents, however any existing information is kept for 30 years after and individual’s death. If the date of death is unknown, it is kept for 130 years after the date of birth.