Health Information & QR Codes
Basic medical information and medical history is critical in case of medical emergencies. If first responders do not have that information patients can be put at risk for medication reactions, medical complications, and treatment processes can take longer as healthcare providers are left to explore the patient’s condition in the dark. When the medical information is non-attainable, patients can also be put at risk for death in cases of coronary and heart health issues. QR codes are scanned by smartphone or mobile phones containing camera software that link to a website URL to retrieve basic medical information that is used to get the patient help.
ERMedStat (Harrington, 2012) is a company that uses QR codes and smartphones to provide first responders with basic medical history. The information contains blood type, emergency contacts, allergic reactions, medical complications, and a list of medications. The company does not collect insurance information, driver’s license, or social security numbers in efforts to prevent identity theft and medical insurance theft.
Medical emergencies arise without notice and do not always leave the patient conscious or alert to give the needed information for care. Some medical conditions can cause unconsciousness and confusion that leave the patient incapable of answering questions. And, there is not always someone around who knows the patient medical information to give the information to the first responders. Having a QR code that can be easily scanned per smartphone or other mobile technology can save a life in case of emergency. It is as easy as the paramedic scanning the code to retrieve information to be relayed to medical providers to get the needed care fast and efficiently.
Patients can make a profile on Lifesquare that consists of basic medical information (Staff, 2012) of medication and other allergies, a list of medications, emergency contacts, physician information, and basic history of the patient. The patient then receives stickers containing the QR codes that can be placed on the refrigerator, wallets, backpacks, and bike helmets. Medical information can be updated online. If an emergency arises, the QR Code is easily accessible to obtain medical information.
The information is stored in secure HIPPA compliant servers (How it Works). HIPPA is a medical information law that requires medical information to be highly secured and only accessible on a need to know basis. Paramedics only are allowed to access the information in case of emergencies. With HIPPA security requirements only certain persons can attain the information as it is needed to provide the needed care.
Because medical emergencies can happen anywhere, stickers can also be applied to wrist watches, necklace pendants, and other personal affects that can be worn on person. If someone is in the mall shopping and suddenly collapses, the QR code can be scanned from the person’s personal affect to retrieve the medical information. This gives the information for care and allows for contacts to be contacted for awareness that the patient is in trouble.
The disadvantage of QR codes is they can be accessed with any mobile phone that contains the camera software. This means the system is not foolproof. Caution should be taken as to the information that is input in the profile. Placing identifiable information, such as driver’s license, social security numbers, or insurance information into the profile invites identity theft and medical insurance theft. Another disadvantage is the fact it links to a website URL that can lead to a hacker’s malicious website. A malicious website can contain malicious malware and viruses that damage the devices accessing the website. It can also be a way for a hacker to steal information that is contained on the device, such as personal information and phone numbers.
QR codes provide a means for medical information and medical history to be accessible in case of emergency situations. They are simply scanned to retrieve the information for the patient to be provided the needed care without risks of medication reactions, medical complications, and for a first responder to know the history to relay to a healthcare provider, such as medical conditions they need to be aware of. They can be placed in accessible areas in the home or worn on the person by being attached to a personal affect. And, they are reasonable secure with information being stored in HIPPA secured servers.
Persons who are considering participation in the Lifesquare pilot study can feel reasonably safe to do so as long as no personal identifiable information is put into the profile, such as medical insurance, social security numbers, and driver’s license information. As information changes, it can be updated online by going to the Lifesquare website. Persons participating in the pilot study can be a part of the study to help advance patient safety in case of emergencies that can arise.
For persons who are still skeptical, the Lifesquare website can give information as to how the program works and how information is handled and stored. It is important to know how the information would be used and who has accessibility before participating and setting up a profile. It is always pays to be cautious and know firsthand and it will give a piece of mind in knowing how it is secured from unauthorized persons.
Harrington, C. (2012, Mar 7). Maryville company uses QR codes to share medical histories in emergencies. Retrieved from knoxvillebiz.com: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/mar/07/marville-company-uses-qr-codes-to-share-medical/
How it Works. (n.d.). Retrieved from Lifesquare: https://www.lifesquare.com/how
Staff, T.N. (2012, Sep 26). New QR Codes Tell Paramedics Your Medical Info. Retrieved from Tech News Daily: http://www.technewsdaily.com/6264-new-qr-codes-tell-paramedics-your-medical-info.html