News that radio frequency identification (RFID) implants could pose dangerous health risks -- even cancer -- has the healthcare and personal health records (PHR) industries wondering how to provide medical professionals with vital patient health records in case of emergency.
A simple, free and non-invasive alternative already exists. Consumers can use Web-based services, CD-ROMs and simple paper-products designed to hold critical data that can be easily accessed or carried, said Steven M. Hacker, M.D., founder and CEO of PassportMD Inc., a leader in consumer-managed healthcare products.
"It's a twist George Orwell couldn't have imagined -- that some 'big brother' computer chip injected under the skin may jeopardize your health," Hacker said. "Products like PassportMD provide a safe, secure and non-invasive alternative. It's free and the information is immediately accessible without access to a phone or Internet connection."
Glass-encapsulated RFID transponders from companies like VeriChip are implanted under the skin. A special scanner must be used to reveal a 16-digit code that's then entered into a Web database to retrieve the patient's medical information. Earlier this month, it was reported that some lab animals implanted with chips developed cancer and sarcoma. Other possible adverse effects include tissue reactions, migration of the implanted chip, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) incompatibility, electrical hazards, infection and even compromised information security. Already used to identify lost pets, some 2,000 people worldwide have RFID chips implanted for PHR applications.
Products like PassportMD.com provide safe and secure access to patient records. Subscribers can create a free personal health record by following a simple, 10-step tutorial. The PHR can be printed on a wallet-sized card or can be accessed anytime through a password-protected Website. Unlike chip-based solutions, PassportMD allows subscribers to store, access and print living wills or advance medical directives. By upgrading to the premium service, subscribers can use PassportMD's unique "Doctors Notes on Demand" service that lets consumers easily request, receive, store, print and access their doctors chart notes.
"Life-saving access to personal health records should be the solution to a medical problem -- not the cause of one," said Mitch Bernatsky, President of PassportMD, Inc.