Google is getting into the healthcare industry. Google recently made it possible for individuals to store their healthcare records online through their Google Health Records Management Service, a move that has met with mixed reviews. Even more recently, Google Health has started offering another, similar, service: storage of your “end-of-life wishes” along with your healthcare records in their online database.
At first glance, this may seem like a great idea; what could be better than having your healthcare records and your end-of-life wishes stored in one easily accessible place? And Google does their best to make it easy for you to create an advanced directive with them as well. The problem is, not all advanced directives are created equal.
As important as it is to have an advanced healthcare directive, and to specify your wishes for your healthcare agent and your end-of-life care, it is just as important to do it the right way. First of all, each state has its own rules and regulations regarding the legality of your healthcare directive. Secondly, those laws have a tendency to change periodically, and if you aren’t going to be able to keep abreast of these changes you need to have an attorney who will. And last but not least, hospitals take their responsibility regarding patient privacy, the wishes of the patient, and the wishes of the family very seriously. Hospitals will not talk to your agent or release information about your healthcare status unless you have a directive that complies with all the laws of your state AND you have a signed and updated HIPAA Authorization.
Before jumping on the “great deal” Google offers, talk to your attorney about your own healthcare directive and HIPAA Authorization. If you are determined to take advantage of the opportunity to put all of your healthcare documents online, rather than using Google’s “easy” forms, it might be a better idea to upload your own professionally created documents.