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Refrigerator Magnet Brings Medical Data to Emergency Responders

EMS SignPost's solution features a magnet with a built-in NFC RFID tag and software on a cloud-based server to store health-related information about a home's residents.
By Claire Swedberg

The solution can be appropriate not only for elderly individuals who may have health problems and a large number of prescriptions, Nies says, but also for families with children who have medical concerns. "It's a great product for that," she adds—for instance, in a scenario in which a babysitter might not have information that the EMS staff would need regarding a child's health conditions. In fact, Nies says she uses the system in her own home, to provide the necessary information regarding her child, who has medical conditions.

According to Nies, most of those who have the magnets learned about the system by calling in to offer their personal information in case there might be a future emergency call. Nies says she and other fire staff recommend that the callers register for the system. The technology has also been featured on the local TV news.

EMS SignPost's Garrett Keirns
EMS SignPost's parent company, Electronic Commerce Link Inc., also based in Cincinnati, offers software and website development for municipal governments. About a year ago, its founders conceived the idea of a digital system that offered an alternative to the "vial of life" that is recommended to residents with health issues, says Garrett Keirns, EMS SignPost's sales manager. The vial of life typically consists of important medical information written on a piece of paper that is stored in a kit at a central location, such as in the refrigerator. Not only might a kit be missed, he explains, but there are also issues of privacy, since anyone could see those papers if they were in the house.

Electric Commerce formed EMS SignPost to market a solution employing digital data storage that can be quickly accessed by those who need it in the event of an emergency. While many elderly patients might not be tech-savvy when it comes to inputting and updating medical information, they can appoint a relative or other guardian to provide information and updates.

EMS SignPost has sold the solution to several other municipalities in the Indianapolis area, Keirns says, and is currently in discussions with others around the country. The magnets are provided by GoToTags, and are made with NXP Semiconductors Mifare Ultralight chips.

"GoToTags works with product manufacturers worldwide to enable NFC in their products for both their customers and our customers," says Liz Sandoval, GoToTags' marketing director. "We can produce a large variety of NFC-enabled products, including stickers, wristbands, cards and toys, as well as raw products, such as printable NFC stickers and inlays."

The benefit of the technology for both residents and EMS workers, Keirns says, is the assurance that the correct information is available during an emergency. The company sells the magnets at a price of $1.60 apiece, and offers EMS agencies access to the data at a rate of $3,000 per year for a community population of 50,000 or less. "We designed it to be affordable," he states, as the firm was cognizant that fire departments typically have modest budgets.

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