How smartphones could make emergency medical info more accessible

Smartphones could prove to be the easiest and least challenging approach to ensuring that emergency medical information (EMI), especially for the chronically ill, is within immediate reach while ensuring security of such data, according to Kristina Derrick, a pediatric endocrine fellow at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York.

Mobile device handsets present a viable housing option for EMI for several reasons, including fast real-time access in emergency situations and protection of the confidential data, Derrick says.

In a paper published at Clinical Pediatrics, Derrick and fellow endocrinologists advocate for greater consumer education regarding EMI and the need for more consumers to focus on getting EMI within quick reach. The report also compares the pricing and utility of traditional EMI accessories.

"I believe people with chronic medical conditions would benefit if all platforms had EMI accessible from the locked screen integrated into their basic platform, as Apple has done," Derrick tells FierceMobileHealthcare in an email interview. "We will need to educate first responders and medical providers about these tools. Providers can then tell their patients about this option. Not every person with a chronic medical condition will have a smartphone, so this may not be the best form of EMI for everyone."

Getting consumers on board with an EMI strategy shouldn't be a huge challenge given a recent study that reveals roughly two-thirds of Americans are enthusiastic about tapping digital tools for managing personal health.

In addition, more consumers are already embracing smartphones and mobile devices for chronic disease management and treatment support services. Mobile tools, such as text messaging, can help boost adherence in global chronic disease management, which can lead to improved health and more cost-effective care, according to a recent study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Currently, there are many options for driving EMI access, from ID tags and wallet cards to jewelry featuring data chips, Derrick says. But there can be a stigma attached to such approaches, as well as cost factors, she says, adding that using a smartphone eliminates all those issues.

"I think the most effective approach is to explain the importance of EMI and discuss all of the options with patients," Derrick tells FierceMobileHealthcare. "It's also very important for healthcare providers to follow up with patients to see if they have acquired EMI and remind them to obtain it, if they haven't already."

For more information:
- read the report (subscription required)

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