Medical alert information goes online

What happens in the event of a medical emergency, if you are unconscious or unable to communicate? For those with MedicAlert bracelets or necklets, the procedure is straightforward. One phone call to a 24-hour emergency hotline from anywhere in the world gives access to your medical information and personal contacts. Now a new U.S. company is offering a similar service with a high-tech twist.

The American firm, EmsTags, has launched a medical database service accessible by Internet. Members place their personal emergency medical information in a secure Internet accessible database. Instead of a phone number, the EMS bracelet displays a website address and your password. This gives the hospital or caregiver instant access to your medical file. The service is not yet available in Canada.

Members of EmsTags maintain their own medical data online through an encrypted website. Your medical information is instantly available online. Otherwise, the service is very similar to MedicAlert’s.

Medical information services supplied by organizations such as the Canadian MedicAlert Foundation have become the standard for first responders and healthcare professionals. The services rely on the telephone.

Online or by phone?
"MedicAlert is especially helpful when a patient arrives in our emergency room unresponsive," says Jla Faye Turley, an emergency room nurse at Foothills Hospital in Calgary. "The information engraved on
the bracelet gives us the primary medical information we need to diagnose and treat patients properly. But with one call, we can also find out who the patient is and get the additional information we may need."

So why use the Internet when a phone call will do? At first glance, the new EMSTags system might seem an unnecessary use of technology to pass on medical information quickly and accurately. The key advantage is that a hospital or doctor could have instant access to your entire medical file. This increased level of information will undoubtedly become the standard in the near future.

In the meantime, any one with a medical condition that could cause problems should investigate the medical information system concept pioneered by Medic Alert. Medical information services can be a true life saver, whether you’re travelling on vacation or down to your local mall.