A Better Use for Selfies: A Video Healthcare Directive

A Better Use for Selfies: A Video Healthcare Directive

I don’t much care for the explosion of “selfies” in our culture. It strikes me as the epitome of “Hey, look at me!” However, I believe I’ve found a marvelous new use for the selfie: recording a video healthcare directive.


Photo Courtesy: Thinkstock / ViewApart

Photo Courtesy: Thinkstock / ViewApart

In a recent Huffington Post article titled Advance Directives 2.0, Dr. Angelo Volandes presents a video healthcare directive as an alternative to the traditional healthcare directive form. For context, Volandes explores various reasons why the number of people adopting the use of healthcare directives remains low, even after three decades of effort. He suggests that many of the advance care planning barriers that patients and physicians experience could be overcome with a video directive.

Volandes proposes that the ubiquitous nature of digital devices to capture a video healthcare directive could foster wider acceptance of advance care planning. Intuitively, recording a video with a smartphone or iPad just feels easier. Readily accessible and free online storage makes storing a video feasible for most anyone. Furthermore, for many people, a video healthcare directive might be less intimidating than the legal language and the requirement of witnesses or a notary to complete and execute an advance directive form. Moreover, a new video can be easily recorded to capture changed preferences in the future.

Critics might argue that video messages could be too long, vague, or even be coerced. However, the same observations could apply to a healthcare directive form.

The beauty of a video message is its humanity. Seeing your face and hearing your voice conveys a powerful expression of your end-of-life wishes. Your decision-makers deserve a window into your mind, heart, and spirit to discern what would motivate your own decision-making if you were able to communicate your treatment and care preferences. A video directive could create that window.

As a professional speaker, when I am teaching on the topic of healthcare directives, I speak against the convenience of merely checking boxes on a form. Far too often, I’ve seen Living Wills that amount to checked boxes and a signature. Formal, cookie-cutter language can diminish the deeply personal nature of end-of-life wishes.

Alternatively, a video recording affords a completely personal—and therefore more believable—message. A video healthcare directive message should include:

  1. Meaningful treatment instructions that create guidelines for your care.
  2.  Your needs for emotional and spiritual care to comfort you through the end-of-life journey.
  3. The why behind the wishes. This is perhaps the greatest benefit. In your own words, you can share the values and beliefs that support the preferences you are communicating.

Ultimately, I believe a video message would best serve as a complement to a legally executed Healthcare Power of Attorney form that designates your healthcare agents. A video message designed to inform and guide your healthcare agents would ensure your voice is heard, while still giving your agents the latitude necessary to respond to unanticipated circumstances. While the video might not be legally executed in the same way that a document is witnessed or notarized, it nonetheless affords invaluable insight for those charged with medical decisions that serve in your best interest.



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