Commercial Products That Convey Personal Health Information in Emergencies

Published in: Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, v. 5, no. 4, Dec. 2011, Commentary, p. 261-265

Posted on on December 01, 2011

by Vishnu C. Potini, Dilani N. Weerasuriya, Douglas W. Lowery-North, Arthur L. Kellermann

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OBJECTIVE: Describe commercially available products and services designed to convey personal health information in emergencies. METHODS: The search engine Google®, supplemented by print ads, was used to identify companies and organizations that offer relevant products and services to the general market. Disease-specific, health system, and health plan-specific offerings were excluded. Vendor web sites were the primary sources of information, supplemented by telephone and e-mail queries to sales representatives. Perfect inter-rater agreement was achieved. RESULTS: Thirty-nine unique vendors were identified. Eight sell engraved jewelry. Three offer an embossed card or pamphlet. Twelve supply USB drives with various features. Eleven support password-protected web sites. Five maintain national call centers. Available media differed markedly with respect to capacity and accessibility. Quoted prices ranged from a one-time expenditure of $3.50 to an annual fee of $200. Associated features and annual fees varied widely. CONCLUSION: A wide range of products and services exist to help patients convey personal health information. Health care providers should be familiar with their features, so they can access the information in a disaster or emergency.

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