ICE is cool but primitive

ICE is cool but primitive

When rescuers or emergency room personnel want to contact next of kin, they have a tool that wasn’t there in the past: cell phones. Many patients have cell phones, and those phones often contain directories of phone numbers. However it’s often hard to figure out who to call. Spouses are often listed by name instead of relationship, “Mom” might have Alzheimer’s of be a code name for someone’s drug dealer, and so on.

ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency.” The idea, which seems to have gained popularity from last year’s London bombings, is to put ICE in front of emergency contact names. For example, “Mom” becomes “ICE Mom,” making it easy to figure out whom to call. It sounds like a good idea, and a simple one.

It would also be nice to have one’s full or partial medical record on the phone. Maybe it would be a good idea to include a listing that says ICE Medical Records and then have an entry with important info (like allergies or chronic conditions if the phone allows text fields) or an 800 number that has access to the patient’s personal health record. It could also be a number that returns the patient’s PHR info in response to a text message. Handset makers could even include an ICE button.

There is a bit of a problem for people like me who use voice dialing. If I add ICE in front of frequently called names I’ll have to say “ICE Mom” or “ICE John” instead of just Mom or John. However a way around that could be to make duplicate entries, one with ICE in front and other not. They can have the same phone numbers associated with them.

I think I’ll give it a try. Now, we just need to make sure people know to check for it.

October 19, 2006

One thought on “ICE is cool but primitive”

  1. I love the idea of accessing medical records via the cell phone.

    I see only one speed bump: if the cell phone falls into the wrong hands, one quick dial results in the ultimate invasion of privacy. Imagine the possiblities of this in the middle of, say, a messy divorce?

    Nonetheless, I’m sure we can come up with a workaround. Perhaps the records can only be accessed by inputting a valid provider identifier number or some such. With 75 percent of Americans owning a cell phone, I have to think accessing records via cell phone is both smart and a doable thing in the long term.

    But how about a work-around in the short term? Can someone in the doctoring business tell me, would it be at all useful for me to take all my EOBs or other medical documentation that I have saved (and never throw out), scan them all into a PDF, and put it on a USB data stick that hangs on my keychain with a brief inscription explaining what’s on it (e.g. “ICE-Medical Records”)?

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