August 28, 2017

Maryland Legislature Passes Bill to Ease Use of Electronic Advance Directives


Maryland’s 2016 legislative session in Annapolis ended this month with a win for electronic advance directives.

State lawmakers have passed a bill that will make it significantly easier for Marylanders to electronically document their decisions on the health care they would like to receive at the end of life. HB 1385, which awaits Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature, sets up a more efficient and effective electronic way of documenting end-of-life wishes and makes it more likely that doctors will be aware of those wishes in times of need.

More than 90 percent of Americans believe it is important to talk about end-of-life care, but fewer than 30 percent have actually documented these decisions. And in cases where wishes have been documented, challenges with accessing (and subsequently respecting) these care decisions remain.

Electronic advance directives can greatly improve this process. This bill, sponsored by Del. Dan Morhaim of Baltimore County with 22 other cosponsors, will allow individuals to fill out and submit their end-of-life care plans in an advance directive online, without cumbersome additional steps.

This measure is an important step in supporting Horizon’s upcoming efforts to encourage individuals in Howard County to communicate and document their decisions for end-of-life care.