Virginia announces free online health care registry

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The state says people may now have an easier way to decide who makes certain decisions when it comes to health care, especially when they aren't well enough to make them on their own.

People will be able to access a brand new database from their computers. They can now save all end of life care preferences so loved ones can honor them.

It's a system the Virginia Department of Health has been working on for three years.

"It's a really good system to use for people to get their end of life wishes out there," said Department of Health Chief Information Officer, Debbie Secor.

The Department of Health is working with several companies, including Microsoft, to help people post their end of life wishes through this online database .

"It's really necessary to have an electronic way to express your end of life wishes," Secor added.

The registry contains some key concepts if people become ill and cannot make medical decisions on their own.

1. Appointment of an agent: also known as power of attorney. You can authorize someone, like a relative or close friend, to make decisions.

2. Written directive: referred to as a living will. You can state what kinds of health care you want.

3. Document registry: serves as an online filing system to store information you'd like to make available to loved ones and health care providers.

4.Optional information: additional notes to make your record more complete.

That info will go on an I.D. card you'll receive after registering. The state says it's necessary to have in an emergency. You can register and secure a PIN number which you can give to close family or friends. They must have it to access your medical information.

"Right now, if you have advanced directive, it's usually a piece of paper and you have to move it around to make sure family members have it," Secor noted. "With this, it will all be online."

The state says all information on the database will be secure and protected. Doctors say it's a more efficient way to access patients medical records.

"It's much more convenient this way and it cuts down on paperwork," said Health Department Commissioner, Karen Rimley.

Lawmakers say Virginia is one of 12 states with a partnership. It's the only one that now offers a free registry to people who live in Virginia permanently. For more information on the new health care registry, click here.

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