Published September 26, 2010
Some college football players are carrying a few grams of extra gear this season, and it could save their lives -- yours, too.
The In Case of Emergency Dot (or ICEDOT) is a small red disc that snaps onto a person’s shirt. The incredibly low-tech plastic chip grants access to an incredibly high-tech world of info, through a unique eight-digit number that medics can activate and receive a patient’s complete, current health information in seconds.
It's just one feature in the Invisible Bracelet system, a high-tech version of the medical ID cards or bracelets people have worn for years -- which are hand-written or permanently stamped and way, way out of date. ICEDOT owners register online and create a public profile of up to 160 characters, which can be sent via text message to a medic during an emergency situation and list up to 10 people medics should contact.
The public profile is a limited one anyone can access -- just as anyone could have read an old ID bracelet -- by texting the eight-digit number to 51020. But the technology goes further, letting users create a very detailed private profile with added layers of security.
Emergency providers must show in writing that they are in good standing with their local health department in order to be a part of the Invisible Bracelet system. Each medic approved by Docvia, the company that designed ICEDOT, is given a unique log-in and password and trained to access the private profiles through a series of secured firewalls, using a computer or a mobile device at the scene of an emergency.
“A vast majority of EMS services in this country, if they have not migrated to an electronic documentation system, they are migrating to an electronic documentation system,” Bruce Baxter, CEO for New Britain Emergency Medical Services in Connecticut, a trained user of ICEDOT, told FoxNews.com.
Once a medic passes the secured server, he can input a patient’s eight-digit number to access medical records in the private profile. This ensures a person's privacy, Noah Roberts, Docvia’s CEO, told FoxNews.com.
“When a query is done we know precisely who did it, when they did it, and what patient’s PIN number was queried for how long,” Roberts said. He said the company monitors searches and looks for abnormal queries, like multiple searches for one patient’s eight-digit number or searches for non-active member identification numbers.
On September 11, the Oklahoma Sooners football team wore the tiny new medical devices beneath their jerseys for the team's season opener. But Docvia sees the gadgets in use beyond the wide world of sports and in the world at large.
“When you’re the patient and you’re in that chaotic situation ... well, it’s unbelievable how many folks cannot remember their husband’s phone number,” Roberts said. “And they can't remember which medications the family member is on; we’ve just said, take the guess work out of it.”
Fortunately, medics didn't have to use the ICEDOT while attending to running back Brennan Clay, who was injured in last weekend's game; Clay remained conscious and was able to communicate. But teammate and defensive end Jeremy Beal was nevertheless reassured by the DOTs. "Every athlete likes to know that everything that can be done is being done."
Clay was lucky. But when victims aren't able to communicate, Invisible Bracelet products can become life-savers, Baxter said.
“We had a case where an individual had serious kidney disease, which was important for our paramedics to know because that stimulates or triggers a different clinical treatment protocol,” he said.
It’s illegal for medics to access a patient’s medical records without consent, but it’s difficult to track if that is happening -- until now, Roberts said. When people sign up for an ICEDOT, they give such consent, he explained.
“With Invisible Bracelet, it’s obvious,” he said.
Baxter noted that people have been carrying medical identification cards or wearing bracelets for years -- usually hand-written and not always up to date.
“You go to the doctor once or twice a year and change medications, or add medications, or delete medications,” he said. “One of the unique things for this is it’s a subscription-based service. When it comes back up for a renewal, you’re forced back into a website to update all your current medications.”
Roberts said members are required to update their information -- allergies, medications, major conditions, insurance, doctors and emergency contacts -- in order to renew the service.
“I think you’re going to find that Invisible Bracelet will increasingly come to the forefront in part of the repertoire of treating paramedics across the nation,” Baxter said.
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