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An Ethical Framework for Incorporating Digital Technology into Advance Directives: Promoting Informed Advance Decision Making in Healthcare


Gloeckler, Sophie; Ferrario, Andrea; Biller-Andorno, Nikola (2022). An Ethical Framework for Incorporating Digital Technology into Advance Directives: Promoting Informed Advance Decision Making in Healthcare. Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 95(3):349-353.

Abstract

Despite the presumed value of advance directives, research to demonstrate impact has shown mixed results. For advance directives to serve their role promoting patient autonomy, it is important that patients be informed decision makers. The capacity to make decisions depends upon understanding, appreciation, reasoning, and communication. Advance directives are in part faulty because these elements are often limited. The present paper explores how the application of digital technology could be organized around a framework promoting these four elements. Given the state of digital advancements, there is great potential for advance directives to be meaningfully enhanced. The beneficial effects of incorporating digital technology would be maximized if they were organized around the aim of making advance directives not only documents for declaring preferences but also ethics-driven tools with decision aid functionality. Such advance directives would aid users in making decisions that involve complex factors with potentially far-reaching impact and would also elucidate the users' thought processes to aid those tasked with interpreting and implementing decisions based on an advance directive. Such advance directives might have embedded interactive features for learning; access to content that furthers one's ability to project oneself into possible, future scenarios; review of the logical consistency of stated preferences; and modes for effective electronic sharing. Important considerations include mitigating the introduction of bias depending on the presentation of information; optimizing interfacing with surrogate decision makers and treating clinicians; and prioritizing essential components to respect time constraints.

Keywords: Advance Care Planning; Advance Directives; Autonomy; Decision Support Techniques; Digital Technology; Patient Rights.

Abstract

Despite the presumed value of advance directives, research to demonstrate impact has shown mixed results. For advance directives to serve their role promoting patient autonomy, it is important that patients be informed decision makers. The capacity to make decisions depends upon understanding, appreciation, reasoning, and communication. Advance directives are in part faulty because these elements are often limited. The present paper explores how the application of digital technology could be organized around a framework promoting these four elements. Given the state of digital advancements, there is great potential for advance directives to be meaningfully enhanced. The beneficial effects of incorporating digital technology would be maximized if they were organized around the aim of making advance directives not only documents for declaring preferences but also ethics-driven tools with decision aid functionality. Such advance directives would aid users in making decisions that involve complex factors with potentially far-reaching impact and would also elucidate the users' thought processes to aid those tasked with interpreting and implementing decisions based on an advance directive. Such advance directives might have embedded interactive features for learning; access to content that furthers one's ability to project oneself into possible, future scenarios; review of the logical consistency of stated preferences; and modes for effective electronic sharing. Important considerations include mitigating the introduction of bias depending on the presentation of information; optimizing interfacing with surrogate decision makers and treating clinicians; and prioritizing essential components to respect time constraints.

Keywords: Advance Care Planning; Advance Directives; Autonomy; Decision Support Techniques; Digital Technology; Patient Rights.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > General Medicine
Language:English
Date:September 2022
Deposited On:13 Jan 2023 09:26
Last Modified:28 Apr 2024 01:44
Publisher:PubMed Central
ISSN:0044-0086
OA Status:Green
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
PubMed ID:36187419
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Publisher License