When traveling we don’t normally take all of our health information with us. You may have some recent details on your prescriptions, but not much more. A friend told me that when he travels he usually runs for exercise, on his shoes he has a tag that contains his doctor’s name and phone number as well as the doctor’s cell phone. If my friend were to drop unconscious someone could contact his doctor and get help immediately…hopefully. While this medical emergency contact information is a start it doesn’t suffice for most people with serious health conditions.
It makes perfect sense for a healthy person to carry emergency contact information. Perhaps, it would be worthwhile to have more immediate info accessible to the emergency response person wherever you may be. Yet a simple slip of paper with information on it is not enough. How does someone know you have such a document in your pocket? Some solutions such as medic-alert have been used for individuals. A simple call to a toll-free number provides access to medical information using a call center services. Is there a better way?
One solution to this issue is USB key technology. Why not use a USB Key? How many USB Keys do you own and how many have you misplaced or lost? Compare that with your credit card. You carry one or more of them in you wallet, purse or pocket. Even when lost you can easily get them replaced or reissued. Devices like a USB need a computer, credit cards just need card readers or scanners. And even without the computer or internet a smartcard can have information on it and in it that can still provide information when needed.
Many have compared eHealth with eCommerce and ATM banking. We can take a page from this domain and use the smartcard. This is used for credit and debit cards. A personal healthcard based on smartcard technology can store encrypted data about the individual and also have access to family members’ health details if needed. The card would have a photo for identification and a number and name to identify the person quickly. Yes, it would be required that the emergency response would have to have a card-reader to access the stored data on the card. The technology can even have information printed on the card, along with a Name, Health card number there can be an emergency phone number to a central agency.
The card can also have a 2-d barcode that can be scanned to reveal more details that may be needed by EMS and that the user would want to keep private form someone visually inspecting the card. Scanning the 2-D barcode could also direct the user to a website. With added security questions and login the site can provide access to a full health record. Add RFID and a biometric such as a fingerprint, retinal scan or DNA and you have a very secure mobile device for health information. This would eliminate individual hospital cards and allow global access to health details wherever you are.
Such a solution could be used by anyone. The scanner and card-reader technology is readily available and easily deployed by EMS and hospital ER departments. It would reduce the stress related to remembering passwords and also make it easier in case of emergencies.