Most healthcare startups share a common goal: to improve lives. Whether through a new drug, medical device or platform, most are focused on helping individuals live better and longer.

However, living better doesn’t always mean living longer. Like all healthcare companies, MATTER startup Vynca shares the goal of improving lives, but their focus is on a part of life many of us ignore — often until it’s too late.

Vynca wants to make sure people die the way they choose. While individuals can create an advance directive document to choose what measures they want taken if they are admitted to the hospital, in the fast-paced environment of an emergency room, their wishes can be — and are often — lost. In order to help ensure that people’s end-of-life wishes are met, Vynca created a platform to help individuals plan for that time and create documentation that can be shared across the care continuum.
“Everyone talks about living well as really important,” said Emelia Altschul, their director of marketing, “but it’s just as important to help somebody die well.”

We caught up with Emelia to learn more about end-of-life care and the importance of advance directives. Below are the highlights of our conversation.

The basics: What is an advance directive?

An advance directive is a legal document that states your wishes for medical treatment. Once you get towards more serious illness and end of life, there is a medical form called the Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). Each state has a different spin on the name, but really this [document] is meant for that last year of life. It’s a medical order that states what a person may or may not want from a medical treatment standpoint — and this can be changed. Just because you fill out one POLST form doesn’t mean you can’t fill one out the next month, which is very common as somebody progresses through an illness; maybe they want full treatment at first — let’s say for cancer — but a month or two down the road they may decide to change that.”

Read more