This App Helps You Prepare for End of Life Issues

Cake, an app started by local health care professionals, asks the tough questions.
Cake photo provided to Boston Magazine.

Cake photo provided to bostonmagazine.com.

A soon-to-launch service called Cake is proving that there truly is an app for everything, no matter how heavy.

Cake, developed by two local health professionals and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), is making end of life planning as easy as a swipe of your finger. Through the app, users will be able to answer a string of prompts regarding their end of life preferences, then share them with loved ones by smartphone or computer.

The app opens with a scrollable list of yes-or-no questions, many of which go far beyond the normal purview of end of life planning: Are there places you’d like to see before you die? Should people drink on the anniversary of your death? When you’re gone, will you want your Facebook profile deleted? Cake then compiles your wishes, values, and preferences in a page that can be saved or, for $99 a year, sent to a one-on-one consultant.

Cake—as in, planning can be a piece of cake—was started by CEO Suelin Chen, a former health consultant, and palliative care specialist Mark Zhang, in collaboration with BWH’s Innovation Hub. Hundreds of participants have signed up since a beta version launched online in October.

“One hundred percent of people die, but three out of four of us do not plan for it, which can lead to emotional, physical, and financial suffering,” Cake’s founders wrote in their MassChallenge elevator pitch. The app, now in its second set of private testing, made it to the final round of the competition.

Chen emphasizes the importance of assessing your core values—and sticking with them to the end.

“In our health care system in the U.S., the default is basically the maximum amount of care. So, if you want anything different, you have to tell someone,” she says. “Death is a part of life; avoiding it only makes it more painful than it needs to be.”


Dana Guth Dana Guth, Digital Intern, Health dguth@bostonmagazine.com