MedicAlert Foundation Addresses Need for Advance Healthcare Planning

Turlock, California (March 15, 2012) – MedicAlert Foundation, a leader in emergency medical information and identification services, is empowering individuals to make advance healthcare decisions through its new standalone Advance Directive Management Service. With the MedicAlert® service, consumers’ written advance directives are safely and confidentially stored, communicated, and made available when and where they’re needed through MedicAlert’s 24/7 emergency response center or online portal for health professionals. Consumers may purchase the Advance Directive Management Service for $50 which includes five years of document storage and accessibility, live 24/7 emergency response and family notification services, and an emergency wallet card detailing how to access the individual’s advance directives either by phone or online.

MedicAlert currently offers the Advance Directive Management Service as part of its premium membership. This new MedicAlert advance directive service is a standalone offering for individuals who may not have a medical condition, but are proactive about their health and seek advance healthcare planning. MedicAlert safely stores the advance directives in a secure database, allowing access only to authorized users. Because each state has different requirements, the MedicAlert website provides individuals with fillable PDF forms for each state for consumer convenience. The advance directive forms are provided as part of a cooperative arrangement with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

“A partnership with MedicAlert fuels NHPCO’s vision of raising awareness and support for those considering end of life wishes and care,” said Kathy Brandt, Senior Vice President of NHPCO. “With the MedicAlert service, physicians and first responders in medical emergencies will be able to recognize the needs of individuals and treat them appropriately. This alliance also helps both of our organizations to further enhance patient safety across the nation.”

According to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s article, “Advance Care Planning: Preferences for Care at the End of Life,” between 65 and 76 percent of physicians whose patients had an advance directive were not aware of its existence. “This affordable advance directive service will make it easy for everyone who wants to ensure their wishes are considered and respected,” said Andrew Wigglesworth, MedicAlert President and Chief Executive Officer. “This service also helps to take the burden off of family members, who often are living in different regions of the country, by providing a convenient and secure way to make sure their loved ones’ advance directives are communicated to first responders, physicians, hospitals, and other providers, particularly in an emergency.”

The Advance Directive Management Service also provides a convenient, “one stop” service for medical professionals in a primary care practice; as well as hospital emergency departments, which inform patients about the benefits of advance directives and provide guidance on how to access the approved forms that differ by state. Since May 2009, health care providers have been required by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to inform patients about advance directives. This is often difficult to accomplish in busy hospital emergency departments and primary care practices.

For over 50 years, the MedicAlert Foundation has been relied upon as the most dependable and trusted resource among consumers and the medical community. The Foundation has a nationwide program to train emergency response and healthcare professionals to recognize the MedicAlert service and immediately contact the Foundation for medical information, including advance directives on persons wearing medical IDs or carrying wallet cards.

“We are committed to helping consumers and our members to receive the best quality healthcare available and in accordance with their wishes. For all people, the quality and choice of care is a big concern. Through this Advance Directive Management Service, we give ill or injured patients who are unable to speak for themselves, particularly in an emergency situation, a voice in deciding their preferred treatment options,” emphasized Wigglesworth.

About MedicAlert Foundation International

Established in 1956, the nonprofit MedicAlert Foundation International pioneered the use of medical IDs and delivers the most dependable, the most responsive, the most intelligent and the most trusted Emergency Identification and Medical Information Network. MedicAlert Foundation International provides the functionality of an e-health information exchange through an innovative combination of a unique patient identifier linked to a PHR and a live 24/7 emergency response service. MedicAlert Foundation International medical IDs alert emergency personnel to a member’s primary health conditions, medications or implanted medical devices. In addition to its 24-hour emergency response service, MedicAlert Foundation International also provides family and caregiver notification so that members can be reunited with their loved ones. MedicAlert Foundation International services are available around the world through a network of international nonprofit affiliated organizations licensed by the Foundation. Visit www.medicalert.org for more information.

Thursday, March 15, 2012