RapidSOS, MedicAlert partner to enable sharing of key patient information during emergencies
First responders could have access to information about a victim’s medical background during an incident before trying to render aid, thanks to a partnership announced yesterday between RapidSOS and the MedicAlert Foundation that would let MedicAlert members’ information be sent to 911.
RapidSOS is best known for providing accurate location information about 911 callers to public-safety answering point (PSAPs), but the company also can deliver additional information to a call center, such as trip information when an incident occurs involving an Uber, according to Tom Guthrie, vice president of operations at RapidSOS.
This same functionality is leveraged through the RapidSOS partnership with MedicAlert, which makes jewelry that includes health-profile information such as allergies or a conditions like autism, epilepsy, diabetes, Alzheimer’s or dementia, Guthrie said. This MedicAlert information will be accessible by 911 personnel and first responders through the RapidSOS database, he said.
“When a telecommunicator gets a 911 call, our intent is to provide a mosaic of information. Location is king, so I know where you are,” Guthrie said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “But the other side of it is that I also know that you are diabetic, have a pacemaker or have epilepsy, so I can send responders prepared with that information.
“That is the pattern that you’re going to see over and over—here’s more data that’s going to be sent to public safety in this scenario to help them respond.”
Other offerings in the marketplace let people automatically give PSAPs access to personal health and medical-history information when the person calls 911, but those solutions are not very useful when a “Good Samaritan” stranger is calling on behalf of a person in need who is unconscious or otherwise unable to speak. Through the partnership with RapidSoS and MedicAlert, the health information a member’s MedicAlert profile can be provided to a first responder at the scene, so better-informed treatment decisions can be made, Guthrie said.
“We’re trying to get the profile of information to that call-taker, and that either comes because it is associated with the incoming call number—the incoming ANI—or a bystander that is calling on behalf of the patient sees the bracelet or other jewelry and says, ‘They’re wearing a MedicAlert,’” he said. “You can enter that in and pull the profile.
“The intent is to get it to the point of response as fast as we can, so even the EMTs [emergency medical technicians] that are responding to you know that information before they get to you.”
Josefina Jervis, President and COO of MedicAlert, said that the value of getting this information to a first responder prior to treating a MedicAlert member cannot be overstated.
“The emergency profiles of our members include critical health and identification information that can make all the difference during an emergency,” Jervis said in a prepared statement. “Our partnership with RapidSOS will put MedicAlert member data directly in the hands of 911 telecommunicators and first responders during the critical moments of emergency response.
“MedicAlert pioneered the concept of medical identification over 60 years ago, and our ability to ensure our members are protected in their moments of need remains our north star. This is why we are excited to partner with RapidSOS on a solution that will transform outcomes for millions of Americans facing emergencies every day.”
Guthrie said the MedicAlert functionality is scheduled to be generally available through RapidSOS in May.
“That will roll out with Rapid Lite, as well as our integrations that support this additional data,” he said.
While the static MedicAlert profile information is valuable, RapidSOS also is exploring ways to access data from wearable devices and other sensors to give responders dynamic information that could provide greater context about a health incident—for instance, vital-sign data of a patient throughout the day prior to an event occurring, Guthrie said.
“Those are other examples of exactly the discussions we are having; this is additional information that is directly relevant to the incident,” Guthrie said. “Whatever watch has that heart-rate information, there is almost always an app associated with it that is working with the provider to say, ‘When they call 911, built into your EULA—your end-user license agreement—it says that is authorizes us to send this information to public safety on your behalf.
“That’s exactly what we’re working through, whether it’s telematics, a home alarm, a wearable or whatever it might be. So, this MedicAlert stuff is the first of what will be many [partnerships with health-information entities].”
Of course, the sensitivity of health information and privacy laws dictate that such data must be protected and access only by authorized personnel in times of need, such as by responders and 911 personnel only when an emergency call is make and during immediate aftermath of the event, Guthrie said. Right now, the policy challenges associated with making this capability possible are much greater than any technological hurdles, he said.
“The capability already works and will work through the clearinghouse we already have set up,” Guthrie said. “What we’ve got to put in place are the approvals to do it.
“We would partner with the company that made your wearable device, and you’d have to accept their end-user license agreement. Part of that would be … ‘When you dial 911, you’re authorizing me to send this additional information to public safety.’ It’s about going through the legalities and the rights to do it. But, as far as technically, you can do that now.”