Mike Williams, president of the medical supplies store MedSolutions, knows the importance of easy access to medical records in an emergency.
“Last year my dad was experiencing heart complications and was taken to the emergency room,” Williams said. “It took doctors a while to come up with the best course of treatment because they didn’t have access to all his medical records right away, so it got me thinking: why can’t people take personal control of their records?”
Williams devised MedIDCard, a product the size of a credit card with a retractable USB flash drive that stores pertinent medical information that might come in handy during an emergency. The MedIDCard software, MedIDWare, is built directly into the card and can be accessed from any computer with no downloads necessary. As the card’s auto-run software is both MAC and Windows compatible, medical professionals can access the card’s information at all times regardless of their computer’s operating system.
MedIDCard users may input as much or little information as they’d like. Williams said the 2GB (2 billion bytes) on the card provides more than enough storage space for all your information. There are pages to enter information manually, but the card is also capable of storing PDFs of scanned medical records, X-rays and even legal documents such as wills and power-of-attorney declarations. There is also a print and e-mail function so information from the card can be sent to a doctor in a non-emergency case.
“It’s like an insurance policy in your pocket,” Williams said. “You never know when you’ll be in an accident and need access to this information. With the MedIDCard technology, you can keep all of this with you on your person. You can list your allergies and medications, your blood type, family history, immunizations, insurance contact information – you can list if you’re a donor. It’s all the critical information that doctors will need to know to accurately treat you. It’s all there. The MedIDCard speaks for you when you can’t.”
Jane Schmitz, a rehab product specialist from Alameda, heard about MedIDCard from Williams and decided to try the product to keep track of her grandmother’s health records.
“My grandma is 91 years old and she’s very independent, but this card helps us keep track of all her medications and store updated information about doctor’s visits,” Schmitz said. “She’s on at least 20 different medications, so this allows us and the doctors to have all her information right at our fingertips. This way, no matter who takes her to a doctor’s appointment, we’ve got all the needed information right on the card.”
Schmitz said she was also surprised about how easy the card is to use: “I’m not very tech savvy, but the program is so simple to understand and the drop-down menus make it easy to plug in all your information. You never know when something might happen and you need access to all this information for yourself or a loved one, and it’s helpful to have it all with you in your purse or wallet. After seeing how much it’s benefited my grandma, I think I might even get one for myself.”
According to Sutter Delta Medical Center Communications and Marketing Manager Angela Juarez-Lombardi, “We are always very encouraged when patients proactively collect important information regarding their medical history, and the product appears to take patients down that track. Depending on a patient’s condition or treatment plan, there can be a lot of information and paperwork collected, so the idea of putting it in one place is a great idea.”
She also mentioned that while the product is defined as universal, some computers in shared community areas such as an emergency room might have the USB port disabled to prevent the transmission of computer viruses, so a device like this might be more suited for private physicians until technology like this becomes more common.
Williams knows it might take a while for a product like MedIDCard to catch on, but he’s confident that people be will drawn to the card’s ability to help people take control of their health records.
“Having control of your health care is a big issue these days,” he said. “Most people – all of us, frankly – rely on the medical community to maintain our medical records. Not that we shouldn’t trust medical professionals. Of course we should, but this allows you to take control of your own records so that you can have them with you at all times. That personal control could help save your life.”
Williams said to obtain medical records, all you need to do is ask your doctor. Electronic files can be e-mailed to you in PDFs and paper records can be scanned. All you need to do is sign the documents that allow your records to be released.
Juarez-Lombardi said scanning copies of your medical records frees you from the inconvenience of carrying around paper files – and the risk of losing them. But due to the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, patients at Sutter Delta cannot download information to their personal device. They may, however, request hard copies of their medical records.
Since MedIDCard holds a lot of personal information, a security system is built into the card that allows users to establish passwords to keep their information private. However, Williams said that a password could nullify the effectiveness of the card in the case of an emergency in which an unconscious patient is unable share the password.
“There are security measures in place to protect your information, but it’s up to you as to how much security you want to implement,” Williams said. “Don’t enter your Social Security number or credit card information or anything else that can be used to steal your identity. That’s common sense. There are no fields in the program that ask for that information anyway.”
MedIDCard does feature a Health Journal tab where users may keep a journal or log about how they’re feeling. With the Health Tracker, users may enter daily blood pressure readings or use the graphing option to track weight loss or gain and blood-sugar levels.
To make the MedIDCard as user-friendly as possible, Williams invited 50 beta users to test it and provide feedback. “My dream and vision was to create a universal, cross-platform device that anyone can use,” he said. “It’s been a lot of work, but it’s worth it. You can use it with any computer operating system, and there is no downloading, so even if you don’t have a computer, you can take it to a library or your doctor’s office to fill out the information. It takes only 20 to 30 minutes depending on how much information you’ve got to input.”
Williams tested the system out on his father, who was able to input everything on his own and attach nearly 300 PDFs of medical information – all on one card. For backup, his father keeps a second card in a safe place in case the original is lost.
MedIDCard also features a transfer option so that information from one card can be transferred to multiple cards without requiring the user to transfer the data one entry at a time. The product is also made of a durable plastic and the chip inside the USB is water and rust resistant – designed to last.
MedIDCard retails for $42.95 and is available for purchase at MedSolutions, located at 8157 Brentwood Blvd., and online at www.medidware.com.
“This product gives you peace of mind,” Williams said. “It’s a small price to pay for something that might save your life.”
For more information, call 800-433-8910.