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How Setting Up Medical ID Can Save a Life

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What’s one gadget or accessory that almost everyone is sure to have on them when they’re out? A phone—most likely a smartphone. Cell phones became popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s because they made people feel safer. You could call anyone from anywhere in an emergency. Today’s smartphones go one step further, though, by transforming your phone into a medical ID tag. Adding your basic medical info and emergency contacts could end up saving your life.

How the Medical ID Info on Your Phone Is Used

The iPhone’s native Health app has a feature called Medical ID, which allows you to enter your basic medical info and save emergency contact information. Android devices have a similar function.

Once you save your info in your Medical ID, first responders (and other medical professionals) can access it from your phone’s lock screen. If you’re incapacitated, someone else can reach your vital health information without having to get your phone’s passcode. Having this information readily available is essential in an emergency. It can help doctors and other medical professionals deliver the appropriate and life-saving care that you’d need.

You can store basic health info in Medical ID, such as:

  • Blood type
  • Allergies
  • Medications

The latest version of iOS also allows you to share your Medical ID with an emergency contact and will send your ID to dispatchers when you make an emergency call. Your Medical ID and location are sent securely through Apple. It will determine if you’re an area that supports the feature. If you are, Apple shares the info with one of their partners, who then sends it to an emergency dispatch center.

Finding someone else’s emergency info

If you’re in an emergency situation and need to help someone else, you could check their phone for Medical ID. Most smartphones will have an emergency option when you try to unlock them. If the phone’s owner has set up Medical ID or installed a similar app, their medical info will display on their lock screen. You can give these details to emergency responders if the person cannot do so on their own.

How to Set Up Medical ID on Your Device

iPhone

To set up your Medical ID on your iPhone, go to the Health app. Tap your profile photo in the upper right-hand corner, then tap Medical ID. Tap Get Started to set up a new ID.

Enter all of your essential medical info, including your name, preferred language, emergency contact, blood type, medications, and whatever you’d need first responders to know about you in a crisis. Ensure the Show When Locked option is enabled, otherwise medical personnel won’t be able to access your Medical ID without having to unlock your phone. If you want your phone to share your info with your emergency contact during an emergency call, enable the Share During Emergency Call option.

iPhones also have Emergency SOS. With this feature, you can contact emergency services by pressing and holding the side button and a volume button, on any iPhone 8 or newer model. Press the side button fives times for Emergency SOS on an iPhone 7 or earlier. Set up Emergency SOS by going to your Settings, tapping Emergency SOS, and enabling Auto Call.

Android

You can also set up emergency contacts and information on Android phones. To display medical information on your lock screen, go to your phone’s Settings. Then tap About Phone, then Emergency Information. You can add or edit info like blood type and allergies by tapping Edit Info. If you want to add an emergency contact, tap Add Contact.
In addition to medical info and your emergency contact, you can also set an emergency message to appear on your lock screen. Go to your phone’s Settings, then tap Display. Next, tap Advanced, then Lock Screen Display, then Lock Screen Message. Your phone’s settings might differ slightly, though. After you go to Settings, you might have to tap Security instead of Display. Tap the Settings icon next to Screen Lock, then Lock Screen Message.

The Benefits of Having a Medical ID on Your Device

You might think it’s not worth the trouble or feel like it’s an invasion of privacy to save your medical info on your phone. After all, anyone can see it if they have your phone. It’s accessible from your lock screen. But setting up a medical ID can mean the difference between life and death, especially if you have certain health conditions.

With Medical ID on your iPhone or emergency info on your Android, emergency personnel or bystanders can access your important medical information when you’re in distress. If you need a blood transfusion in the ambulance, the paramedics will know what blood type to give you. If you have a pacemaker, paramedics should know so they don’t use a defibrillator, which could cause your pacemaker to malfunction.

Setting up a Medical ID also serves as a reference for yourself. Children could benefit from having this info on their phones especially, since they may not always remember their blood type or allergies. At the very least, you should save an emergency contact so somebody knows who to call if you’re child’s in trouble.
While there are legitimate privacy concerns with setting up Medical ID or its equivalent on Android, the benefit outweighs the risk. As long as you keep your phone away from curious eyes, your medical info can stay private until there’s an emergency.

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