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VeriChip Markets Its Implantable RFID Tags and Services Direct to Consumers
The company has launched a three-month advertising campaign for its newly rebranded Health Link system, and hopes to convince 1,000 South Floridians to get injected with rice-grain-sized transponders linked to health records.
Apr 28, 2008—VeriChip has launched a direct-to-consumer initiative known as Health Link, making its RFID system—previously branded as VeriMed—available to customers in South Florida's tri-county area. For $149, a consumer can have a passive 134 kHz RFID chip, compliant with the ISO 11784 and 11785 standards, implanted in his or her arm, with the transponder's unique 16-digit ID number linked to a database containing that individual's medical records and, if they so choose, a living will.
VeriChip is partnering with hearing care provider HearUSA to make the chips available. With the system, consumers can call an 800 number for additional information. HearUSA telemarketing personnel will answer questions about the system and direct interested parties to HEARx stores in their area. Customers can visit one of HearUSA's eight HEARx locations in Florida's Palm Springs, Martin and St. Lucie counties, and have a VeriChip-licensed nurse implant the transponder there in the store. Consumers need not be HearUSA or HEARx customers to have the chip implanted.
Thus far, about 900 hospitals on the East Coast have agreed to participate in the VeriChip system. These hospitals have received RFID interrogators that can be used to read a patient's embedded VeriChip RFID transponder to automatically access that person's medical records. Of those hospitals, Silverman says, about 200 have completed VeriChip training on using the system, and have been provided access to the VeriMed database, as well as interrogators to scan unconscious or unresponsive patients. At present, 16 South Florida tri-county regional hospitals—including Bethesda Healthcare System, Good Samaritan Medical Center, JFK Medical Center, Jupiter Medical Center and St. Mary's Medical Center—participate in the Health Link system.
The RFID microchip is injected under the surface of a patient's skin, in the rear upper portion of the right arm. If a Health Link member arrives at a hospital's emergency department unconscious, unresponsive or confused, medical personnel can use the Health Link interrogator to retrieve that person's identification number to access his or her personal health record.
Thus far, Silverman says, only about 600 people in the United States have embedded VeriChip transponders. However, the company expects that number to rise as hospital employees gradually make it a standard practice to scan the arms of unresponsive patients being admitted to an emergency room in order to access their identity and medical records immediately.
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