Siemens Business Services and MedicAlert launch pilot project for medical emergencies

Munich 23 October 2006In the United States, Siemens Business Services and MedicAlert recently launched a very first project to test the use of RFID in improving emergency care for medical patients. Soon some 3500 out of four million MedicAlert members will carry a special plastic identification card with them at all times. This card holds their critical medical information on an RFID chip, so that, in the event of an emergency, paramedics equipped with PDAs need only seconds to access critical patient medical condition and allergy data and on arrival at the hospital, secure and immediate access to the MedicAlert patient database is set up automatically, providing hospital staff with the patient's detailed medical information.


When emergencies happen, information can help save lives. Before treating a patient, ambulance staff and doctors not only need to know what actual injuries are involved, they must also have a complete picture of the patient's medical history, possible allergies to particular medication, and contact details of the patient's regular doctors and immediate family. For the past 50 years, the non-profit organisation MedicAlert has provided this life-saving service to its four million members by providing each member with a personalized bracelet or necklace that is engraved with the identity of the owner, their key medical data, and a 24-hour hotline telephone number.

In an effort to speed the access to critical information and to automate work flows, Siemens Business Services and MedicAlert have joined forces to pilot the use of RFID. Soon members of MedicAlert in the United States will carry a plastic card with an integrated RFID chip holding critical information such as details of allergies and medical conditions. Should an emergency occur, the paramedics hold a PDA with an RFID reader near the card - even if the card is in a wallet or purse - and thus obtain critical patient information required to administer immediate medical treatment to stabilize the patient for transport to the hospital. The hospital which will be actually participating in this trial is currently selected.

When the rescue services deliver the patient to the hospital, they pass RFID readers installed at the entrance to the emergency room. On recognizing the patient's RFID card, the devices automatically set up a secure connection to the MedicAlert database and the hospital staff on duty immediately have the full details of the patient's medical history in a printout at their fingertips in the emergency room.

In a first pilot run the technology was already tested in a first phase in late 2005. The second phase will include 3500 patients using RFID MedicAlert cards in a hospital network. The related hospital is currently being defined and the pilot is to be launched within the next few months. From start to finish, the entire solution was devised and implemented by Siemens Business Services and MedicAlert.

MedicAlert is a provider of Personal Health Records. As one of the world's largest non-profit membership organisations with four million members, the mission of MedicAlert is to protect and save lives. MedicAlert is best known for its trademarked ID bracelets which identify and provide critical medical information to emergency personnel. MedicAlert maintains a 24/7 emergency hotline to provide a member's complete medical history. Headquartered in the United States MedicAlert has established international operations in nine other countries, including Australia, Canada, Cyprus, Great Britain, Iceland, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Siemens Business Services is an international IT service provider. This Siemens Group offers services all along the entire value chain - from consulting to systems integration, right through to the management of IT infrastructures. Thanks to its comprehensive know-how and sector-specific expertise, the company provides measurable added value for its customers. With regard to outsourcing, Siemens Business Services is among the top ten providers worldwide. With around 39.000 employees, the Group posted sales in fiscal 2005 - ending 30 September 2005 - of 5,4 billion euro, 75 percent of which was achieved outside the Siemens organisation. More company news is available in the VMW May 2005 article Siemens Business Services, Intel and Fujitsu Siemens Computers are launching an RFID project at the Klinikum Saarbrücken.

Leslie Versweyveld

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