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New “ICEDOT” Could Save Lives – In Case of Emergency

A new piece of technology could save the lives of college athletes — and it only weighs a few grams.

The ICEDOT (which stands for “In Case of Emergency Dot”) is a very low-tech red plastic “chip” that can be attached to clothing. These tiny red discs allow authorized medical personnel access to a computerized system through which they can view a patient’s current health “profile.” All that is needed is the patient’s unique eight-digit serial number.

The chip is a new advance in the “Invisible Bracelet” system, a higher-tech incarnation of the medical bracelets and ID cards people have carried in the past. These are usually hand-written or stamped permanently, so the information contained on them is often highly outdated. Users of the ICEDOT system can register online and create a publically viewable profile of up to 160 characters — that’s just 20 characters longer than a Twitter “tweet.”

This short profile, however, is small enough to be sent via text message to first-responders during an emergency and list a maximum of ten emergency contacts. Anyone can view this limited profile by simply texting the eight-digit number to 51020, similar to how anyone can read a medical bracelet or card. However, the new chip’s technology also allows users to create a highly detailed “private profile” that employs additional security layers.

In order to be a part of the Invisible Bracelet system and have access to private ICEDOT profiles, emergency providers are required to show that they are in good standing with their respective health department — in writing. Each medic approved by ICEDOT’s parent corporation is given a special log-in and password combination and is trained to access the more-detailed private profiles, bypassing a series of secured firewall “hoops” via a computer or mobile device at the scene of an emergency.

Once a person gets past these firewalls, he or she can input a patient’s eight-digit ID number and access privately-stored medical records. According to the CEO of the company that developed ICEDOT, this ensures the privacy of the people using the system. When a patient’s PIN number is queried, the company is able to keep track of who looked up the profile and for how long. The company intends to monitor searches and look out for unusual activity, such as multiple searches for the same number or searches for the ID numbers of persons whose membership in the Invisible Bracelt program has expired.

On September 11, 2010, the Oklahoma Sooners football team wore the small ICEDOT chips beneath their jerseys for the team’s first game of the season. Although it has mostly seen use among athletes so far, ICEDOT has many more potential applications unrelated to sports. It could help in chaotic situations where people are in shock and, for example, cannot remember basic information such as contact information, medications the patient may be on, allergies, and so forth. The new chip removes the guesswork.

It is illegal for medics to access a patient’s medical records without the patient’s consent, but when it occurs it often goes by unnoticed. However, when a person signs up for ICEDOT, they give their consent in advance.

In addition, because ICEDOT is a subscription service, users are forced to update their information, including current medications, conditions, allergies, insurance, doctors, and emergency contacts, upon every renewal.

The Invisible Bracelet system is fast becoming a useful tool among treating paramedics across the nation, and its implications are that it could one day see use for average people all over the world.

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