The importance of storing your patients' advance care planning documents in My Health Record

With National Advance Care Planning Week occurring 21-27 March, it’s a good reminder to talk to your patients about making their wishes known when they cannot speak for themselves by preparing an advance care directive and uploading it to My Health Record. 

Storing advance care planning documents in My Health Record means your patient and any healthcare providers they see have secure access to these important documents whenever they’re needed. It’s particularly vital in emergency settings, giving the treating team rapid access to this information, thereby ensuring a better understanding of your patient’s preferences and the type of care they may want.  

As Advance Care Planning Australia Program Director Linda Nolte says, “Our recent national consultation and research found that only 14 per cent of older adults (aged 65 years or older) had advance care directives to guide decision making at the time of a health crisis1. We are calling on health professionals to support patients to prepare advance care directives and upload them to My Health Record. We know that more people have prepared an advance care directive but have not uploaded it. And it’s of little use to anyone if the only copy is locked away in the solicitor’s office.” 

The Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency)’s recent video Your important health information is available when it's needed highlights the benefits of uploading advance care planning documents to My Health Record. 

“Because it’s so fundamental to decision making particularly at critical times, having an advance care directive in a digital format means its accessible by any member of the care team including people in the medical neighbourhood” explained Dr Paresh Dawda GP Specialist Consultant - Next Practice. 

As explained by Tamra McLeod, General Manager Clinical Services – Goodwin Aged Care Services explains “End-of-life care can be a very stressful time. Having an advance care directive clearly documented, gives residents, their families and the staff peace of mind.”  

Last year, the Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency) launched a set of national guidelines to assist healthcare providers in supporting patients wishing to add advance care planning documents to their My Health Record. 

The guidelines, developed as part of the National Goals of Care Collaborative led by the Agency and the Western Australian Department of Health (DoH), provide guidance about how to store and access documents related to advance care planning, and goals of care discussions that occur in the context of end-of-life care. 

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) have also developed information for patients and information for GPs about advance care planning and My Health Record.  

Patients can add their advance care planning document to My Health Record and update it any time.  

Individuals can also add the contact details of their advance care document custodian (someone who holds a copy of the plan) so that healthcare providers can contact the custodian to get access to the documents if needed. 

To find more information about uploading advance care planning documents to My Health Record, head to 
Australian Digital Health Agency’s website

To find more information and resources, head to National Advance Care Planning Week

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1 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/hex.13264