Virginia launches advanced directives registry

Residents of Virginia will now have a new option to help with their end of life planning. The Commonwealth and Microsoft have partnered to create an Advance Health Care Directive Registry (AHCDR). Residents can create an advanced health care directive free of charge and have it available online no matter where they are. Documents in an advanced health care directive typically include medical power of attorney, do-not-resuscitate orders and any other health care wishes. CivSource spoke with Kim Nelson, Director of eGovernment, Microsoft about the registry and health care issues facing state and local governments.

The Commonwealth has partnered with Microsoft and UNIVAL Inc. to create the first registry of its kind. The registry was the result of health legislation passed in Virginia last year and will be free for all residents who use it as well as free for the state to create through the partnership.

“The registry will help increase the likelihood that an individual’s health care wishes are known by family members or friends and health care providers,” said State Health Commissioner Karen Remley, MD, MBA, FAAP. “It makes that information readily accessible when needed in order to ensure that the individual’s expressed wishes are honored.”

Residents who use the service will be able to upload personal information and create a PIN number unique to their account. They can access their documents using the PIN. In the event of a health emergency, they can also give that PIN to their caretakers in order to access all directives. The registry will also work with the state’s Health Information Exchange (HIE) when it comes online in 2014.

Services like Virginia’s registry are becoming more popular with state and local health officials as state’s look for ways to provide cost effective health services to residents. “Health care is a high priority for many state government officials, the cost of health care is significant and partnerships like this can mitigate some of that, ” said Kim Nelson.

“Health IT is really a core focus in states right now, as they look for ways to drive efficiency within health care and manage budget issues. Electronic medical records, health information exchanges, applications like the registry will all have a role to play,” according to Nelson.

She notes that beyond health IT states are also looking at ways to leverage technology to streamline eligibility systems and case coordination to create a more integrated, comprehensive care picture and become more cost effective. “If states aren’t doing effective case coordination, they probably aren’t spending their dollars efficiently.”