medical records; remote access; healthcare; personal medical information
Millions of people suffer from medical conditions that should be made known to healthcare practitioners prior to treatment. Paramedics and emergency room doctors cannot provide optimal care without sufficient knowledge of a patient’s medical history. Lacking patient information such as allergies, current prescriptions, and preexisting conditions, medical professionals are often forced to either delay treatment or rely on instincts. Medical mistakes in situations like these kill thousands of people and cost an estimated US$37 billion each year in the United States . With the advent of electronic medical records (EMRs), patient information can be stored in computer databases at hospitals and doctor’s offices , . Unfortunately, timely access to this information is often impossible, either because 1) the infrastructure required to communicate with the records database is not available , or 2) medical practitioners are not able to identify the patient to the infrastructure. These situations are especially prevalent in emergency medicine, when the difference between life and death is sometimes measured in minutes and seconds.