Health and technology have merged. Smartwatches can track your heart rate and activity levels, and there are a variety of health-related apps for your devices, including smartphones and tablets, to help you track the food you eat, to encourage you to exercise regularly, and to monitor your habits to get healthier. You can even monitor your sleep habits using your smartphone, to improve your sleep cycle and overall wellbeing.

Besides all the ways your smart device can be your assistant to help you meet your health goals, it can also be a useful tool in emergency situations. The medical ID app on your smartphone can help you get help fast and better communicate with first responders.

If you’ve enabled the emergency medical app, it can call for help and even notify your loved ones that you’ve called emergency services. For people with pre-existing medical conditions or life-threatening diseases, a medical ID app can be a literal lifesaver.

No passcode is needed.

Imagine you're injured or unwell and you become unconscious. First responders have the difficult task of trying to determine what has happened - but if you have your smartphone or smartwatch with you, most first responders and medical personnel are familiar with how medical ID apps work and can access your health information off your phone, even if you've lost consciousness.

A medical ID app is one of the few things a third party can access without a passcode or internet connection. By accessing the data provided by your medical ID, they can obtain valuable information about your possible situation, including:

- Your name;

- Age;

- Any pre-existing medical conditions;

- Medications you’re taking;

- Known allergies;

- Blood type;

- Height and weight;

- Emergency contact information for someone you trust.

Provides up-to-date records.

The information you provide through the medical app can save emergency personnel and doctors time in assessing what could be wrong. Knowing about any pre-existing medical conditions or your allergies can also help doctors treat you without causing any adverse side-effects from a drug allergy or prior medical illness. Medical practitioners can review your basic medical information to create a medical profile about you that could help them create a more accurate diagnosis of what's wrong and how to treat it.

Gives access to emergency contacts.

While basic medical data about you can provide a medical professional with information on what may be wrong, speaking to a loved one who knows you well can be just as critical. You can add one or several emergency contacts that will be notified if you fall ill and who can speak with your doctor about any treatments and/or procedures the doctor may need to perform.

Easier access to medical records.

The ability to view a small snapshot of your medical background is especially helpful if you’re located in a rural town or remote area without immediate access to a hospital emergency room; EMTs can use the information they get from your smartphone to start treatment on the way to the closest hospital.

Reduces medical errors.

One of the most important pieces of information a doctor needs to know is if you are allergic to certain medications. A drug allergy can be serious. Milder cases may result in hives or shortness of breath, but more serious drug allergies can lead to a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. This condition causes your body to shut down and includes loss of blood pressure, weak heartbeat, and seizures.

Besides allergy disclosures, it’s crucial for EMT or emergency room doctors to know if you’re currently taking any medication. Some medications should not be mixed or they may cause life-threatening complications. For example, taking over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin or diet medicine, can negatively interact with blood-thinner medication

The risk of complications from an incomplete medical history can be minimized by including up-to-date information on your known allergies and current medications on your device’s medical ID app.

Medical IDs on wearable tech.

Just like a smartphone, wearable tech, such as a smartwatch, can display your medical information without a password in case of an emergency. It’s a good idea to make your medical history accessible on all your smart devices, just in case you leave one device at home. 

A medical practitioner can access your medical information (if you've enabled it) by pushing the side button and selecting the medical ID option. As with any smart device, you'll need to set up your medical ID and enable emergency access.

How to set up a medical ID.

You'll need to set up and enable the medical ID app on the lock screen for it to work. The iPhone Medical ID app is more comprehensive than the Android version. An Android will only allow emergency contact information. In this case, you may want to provide the designated emergency contact with a medical brief they can provide emergency personnel. Here's how to set up the medical ID app, according to each device type:

iPhone

Find the Health app on the home screen and tap on it. The app is a white widget with a pink heart

- Tap on Medical ID on the lower right-hand corner;

- Tap on Create Medical ID;

- Switch the toggle button to “on” in the Show When Locked page. This will enable your medical information to be displayed without a passcode.

- Follow the prompts to enter your information, such as name, height, weight, and birth date.

- Add a photo if you’d like;

- Enter your known allergies, medical conditions, medical notes, and what medications and supplements you’re taking.

- Add emergency contact information;

- Add blood type (if you know it);

- Add whether you’re an organ donor;

- Tap on Done.

Android

- Open Settings and tap on Users and Accounts;

- Tap on Emergency Information;

- Tap on edit;

- Enter your emergency contact information.

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