Skip to content Skip to navigation

Paper still rules for end-of-life documents

January 21, 2015
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
| Reprints

Those who have created living wills and other documents related to the end of life, for themselves or a parent, prefer to store them as paper copies, according to a survey by software consultancy Software Advice. Forty-five percent of respondents indicated a preference for paper copies.

Digital options, however, were favored by a total of 28 percent of respondents, with 12 percent overall citing an electronic health record (EHR) system, nine percent selecting an online registry and seven percent naming a mobile app as their preferred method of storage. The report notes that a preference for digital options may increase as people become more comfortable with technology and understand its benefits related to end-of-life planning, especially security and easy access.

The company queried more than 1,100 patients/residents or their relatives as well as 47 healthcare providers (working in long-term care communities, hospices or palliative care centers or hospitals) in an effort to help such facilities determine whether to invest in an EHR system for improving the documentation of end-of-life care decisions.

Other key findings:

  • A combined 69 percent of respondents said that caregiver accessibility to end-of-life medical treatment plans is “extremely” or “very” important.
  • The ability to access end-of-life care instructions from any location was the top reason survey participants said they prefer them to be stored in an EHR system versus on paper.
  • A majority (65 percent) of professional caregivers respondents said they believe it is more efficient to store end-of-life instructions in an EHR system than in paper records.
  • Almost one-third of the surveyed professional caregivers said their facilities store patient/resident end-of-life documents in paper form. Twenty-nine percent scan the paper copies into a computer system, and 28 percent enter them into an EHR. Twelve percent said they don't know where patients’/residents’ documents are.