Would it be a good thing if First Responders could access health histories?

A friend shared with me a press release from Medic Alert, one of several companies that offer medical ID bracelets and ways to help patients get health info to medical staff:

Under the program, patients sign up to get a MedicAlert bracelet and then can submit any information they want responders to know about their medical condition and history, such as pre-existing conditions, as well as physician names, addresses, phone numbers, family members and other emergency contacts.

That information is transmitted to RapidSOS, which digitizes the information and puts it in a database, says Michael Martin, CEO at RapidSOS.

When a patient is in need, the health and personal information is digitally available to 911 personnel through the computer system in the ambulance so they can immediately start treatment.

From the perspective of a parent with a medically-complicated kiddo, I can see lots of good things about this — for one thing getting more info than you can fit on a band into the hands of doctors. As my DD heads off to college, I want to know that if she's in an accident, someone with knowledge about her health issues can speak up for her.

Before I do something like this with any company, though, I'd want to ask questions …

  • This is a partnership with another company.
    • What's their privacy policy?
    • How will this info be shared and used?
    • Who will have access to it?
    • What sort of safeguards is in place to protect my DD's health info?
    • Can I opt out of sharing info with organizations if I so choose?
  • Can I periodically review what gets shared?
    • Can I correct any errors that may be in my DD's record?
    • Can I see both what I submit and what an EMT or 911 operator might see on their screens?

On the whole, I think this has some promise! I know I've asked my county's 911 service if there's any way to flag my DD's asthma, allergies and bleeding disorder. While there's not in our county, there may be a way to go ahead and do that in other systems. Still, it wouldn't help her if she were in another location with another 911 system.

Also, if you use Medic Alert, they have a Mother's Day special going on …  30% off a MedicAlert ID in time for Mother's Day. The code is Mom19, and the offer ends May 13th.

What are some pros and cons of an info-sharing service like this? Have you heard of other programs that are similar to this? What would be other alternatives to this?


Comments 3

  • Pljohns

    I have a unique medical alert bracelet that has a QC code on it-if they have a QC scanner on their phone, they can scan it and if not, there is an 800 number to call and my ID and PIN are also on the bracelet.  the QC code gives them my medical history-along with drug allergies and meds I'm on and if you call the 800 number, there is a 24×7 person there that gives them the info.  

    A physician I use to see told me to do SOMETHING.  He said that while a lot of the meds I'm allergic to are not likely to be given by a first responder, some others WOULD and he didn't want to see me again without me wearing a medical alert of some sort.  The QC code is on a rubber one I have so over the years as I've gravitated back to engraved ones, I have them engraved with "severe asthma, multiple med allergies, med info call 1-800-xxxxx" and the ID and PIN are also engraved.  I never take it off.  For me, it's peace of mind and I control what is in my profile so I control what they can see/are told.  

  • Deborah Bartlett

    I can see alot of good in this! This way, paramedics would know what types of medications or treatments NOT to give you. They would know how to treat you, because they would know what you suffer from. If they could know your medication schedule, that would tell them when you last took a medication. 

    I would like to see the option to update your information when adding and changing medications. This happens so much with folks like us!

    I, also would not like my personal information shared with gosh knows who!!! Yes…I'd like to review the privacy policy. Maybe you could opt out of sharing.

  • Melissa G

    I am very excited about this. Bekah has an extensive medical history and a lengthy medication list. She has one cardiac condition that really prohibits some medications being given and paramedics need this information.