I downloaded the ABA’s (Commission on Law and Aging) App at the request of a friend of mine who wanted to try it. I thought it might be a useful tool for my clients, and I submit my review of the App for those who may be curious about it.
(Using a scale of * to *****, 5 stars being very helpful/useful, 1 star being not helpful/not useful or user-friendly)
OVERALL RATING: ****
– Cost: $3.99 ****
Comment: Reasonably priced.
- Flexibility for types of phones: ****
Comment: usable on any smartphone. I don’t know how many phones are still out there that aren’t “smart,” but only smartphones can use the app.
- Upload ability: ****
Comment: Prepare yourself for adding a cloud service if you don’t have iTunes or Dropbox, because currently, these are the only cloud services available at this time for this app.
- Appearance and Ease of Use: *****
Comment: Very easy to use – intuitive. When entering contact info, you can upload directly from your “contacts” list. The app takes you quickly and easily through steps – nothing takes too long. And, you can go back and edit your information easily. This was helpful to me as I was using it for the first time. Lots of information I wasn’t prepared to need! (spellings, middle initials, zip codes, etc.) You can enter what you do know and quickly go back and “edit” anything you want to add after you’ve had a chance to figure it out.
- Password/Security and Access: **
Comment: You can pick your own password to get started – this is great. But, this made me realize that the app is not accessible on my phone because my phone is password protected (which I would recommend for most people). Family members/doctors/hospitals/medical personnel/in general, people who need to know I have a HCD and what it says wouldn’t even be able to tell I had the app, let alone read it. There is exactly one person who knows my phone’s password, and that person already knows what my health care directive says. This is an issue, it seems to me. I’m not going to change my security settings for my cell phone to no password necessary- yikes!!
Of course, if I simply wanted to have my family members’ docs on my phone, this wouldn’t be a problem. I guess it depends on whose docs you’re accessing and under what circumstances.
- Terminology friendly? **
Comment: I’m an attorney so the terminology differences on the app vs. the state (Minnesota) terminology I use with my clients isn’t confusing. But, I think some of my clients might be confused by the differences in terminology. I assume this is true because I spend so much time educating my clients about what these documents do and what they’re called.
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Minnesota, for example, uses the term “Health Care Directive.” Other states use the term “Living Will,” and still others use “Health Care Power of Attorney,” “Advance Medical Directive, and/or “Proxy.” I believe there are even more options around the country since each state gets to make this determination. This app uses “non-Minnesota” terms. This makes me wonder if I would actually have to assist clients in using the app or understanding the terminology. If this is true, then this is problematic. The point of having the app would be to make the client aware of and in charge of their information, changes to that information, and to be able to access it as well.
Maybe I’m making too much of this? I just know how hard I’ve had to work at educating my clients as to the actual names of the documents we use in this state, what their function is specifically, and why they should stop using old names, wrong names, or other states’ names for docs. It confuses the issues (and them!) significantly.
- Multi-functional medical information: *****
Comment: All-in-one, emergency medical information. The app offers four general areas of information storage which you can choose to use: 1) Health Care Wishes Overview (which allows you to quickly communicate which docs are stored on the app); 2) Document storage (actual pdf/WORD docs uploaded to your app, if you wish); 3) Medical Emergency Information like contacts, blood type, prescription drugs, medical conditions, allergies, etc.; and 4) Health Insurance and Specialists.
There is also a button on this page entitled “Resources,” which allows you to create a wallet card, a summary information sheet, access a handy guide for those individuals who will be making decisions for you on how to handle decisions on behalf of someone else, Consumer Tool Kit, and some American Bar Association (ABA) forms and guides. It would be helpful, however, if they could offer state-by-state specific forms.
Further, you can store multiple individuals’ information on the app. For example, an adult child could store their parents’ docs, their own, and their siblings’. Easy.
- Navigation and support: *****
Comment: Easy to use and find support information for the app, access preferences to edit your information and usage, a useful and easy to use backup option, and a home button to navigate easily.
All in all an important, helpful, and useful app that is easy to use. I encourage people to try it. Biggest issues that I can see are the access issue if your phone is password protected and the terminology confusion for some users (and these are not insurmountable).
This blog is written by Bridget-Michaele Reischl, Attorney DECORO LAW OFFICE, PLLC www.decorolaw.com
ALL READERS: This blog is not, nor shall it be deemed to be, legal advice or counsel. This blog does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader. It is designed to encourage thoughtful consideration of important legal issues with the expectation that readers will seek professional advice from a licensed attorney.Contact Bridget-Michaele Reischl at: DECORO LAW OFFICE, PLLC 6 West 5th Street, Suite 800-D Saint Paul, MN 55102 (651)-321-3058 firstname.lastname@example.org