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RFID EMR Pioneer Says “RIP”

When Harvard Medical School and CareGroup CIO Dr. John Halamka agreed to place his medical  information on an RFID chip and have it implanted it in his arm, he triggered an instant global spotlight on this unusual form of portable electronic medical record. The decision, made in December 2004 and disclosed in early 2005, captured worldwide attention from places a diverse as Fox News, the BBC and the New England Journal of Medicine (where Halamka contributed a commentary ).

As recently as 2007, a debate over chip privacy and safety versus having critical medical data instantly at hand (as it were) was featured in a PLoS Medicine exchange.  In it, Halamka asserted, “Implantation of RFID devices is one tool, appropriate for some patients based on their personal analysis of risks and benefits, that can empower patients by serving as a source of identity and a link to a personal health record when the patient cannot otherwise communicate.”

Two years later, Halamka’s chip remains under his skin but he’s ready to turn over the idea that he’s a trendsetter to the undertaker. The technology “has been adopted by no one,” Halamka told me at a meeting on Patient-Centered Computing sponsored by Partners HealthCare’s Center on Information Technology Leadership. “As a technology it’s dead. Use the network, use the cloud to store your personal health records. Or in a pinch, use a USB drive. But the implanted RFID chip is not as a society where we’re going.”

A spokeswoman for Delray Beach, FL-based VeriChip Corp., maker of the FDA-approved device, responded, “We are currently supporting our existing partners, members and healthcare facilities.” The company, which sells implantable chips for security and other purposes, has been through ownership and management changes and is “determining our
strategic direction,” the spokeswoman said.

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internal medicine emrAllscriptsManojJay Andrewsjudy Recent comment authors
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internal medicine emr
Guest

I’ve been looking for topics and came across yours.Thanks for the information.Such a great blog to share with.

Allscripts
Guest

Thanks for the information.

Manoj
Guest

RFID is a great technology, but can easily infringe upon our personal freedoms and security. EMRs are a great tool for both paitents and doctors and would absolutely streamline our healthcare systems. But RFID, is going too far…
http://www.informed-inc.net

Manoj
Guest

RFID is a great technology, but can easily infringe upon our personal freedoms and security. EMRs are a great tool for both paitents and doctors and would absolutely streamline our healthcare systems. But RFID, is going too far…

Jay Andrews
Guest

It has long been realized that, compared to paper-based records, electronic record systems provide many advantages in the healthcare environment, including increased availability, improved legibility, long-term accessibility.therefore,it must be taken seriously.

judy
Guest

GAO RFID is a very cool company with high quality products low prices and good services
TEL: 416-292-0038
Fax: 416-292-2364
Email:media@gaogroupinc.com

toney
Guest

I’m not sure if I agree or not, but I will agree that something needs to change.
http://www.healthy-eating.us

Karl Fisher
Guest

“…Use the network, use the cloud to store your personal health records. Or in a pinch, use a USB drive.”
Exactly. Once there is the ability to uniquely identify a someone, then there is no need to transport their medical data around with them.
The internet and cloud computing allows that data to be accessible anywhere it is needed.

Calvin
Guest

Chris, That’s how the Verichip system works now and has always worked. It only includes a code number that the ER folks scan, which provides them access to that person’s health record. But they can’t access it without their own username and password to get into the Verichip database. Check out a full article on how it works at http://www.hcplive.com/mdnglive/webexclusives/verichip. Ashame that it’s not catching on. Cell phones do get lost, and although most people always have one on them, there would have to be some universal system so that someone in an ER would know how to access that… Read more »

bev M.D.
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bev M.D.

Stupid question; how does one update them once they are implanted?
I do like Chris’ idea to use them for patient ID. Seriously, this could be invaluable for hospitals – think of meds and blood transfusions….

Health Insurance Guy
Guest

RFID chips are here to stay and will be especially helpful for those will complex medical histories.

e-Patient Dave
Guest

Chris, that’s a wicked spiffy idea. (“Wicked” in the sense of “wicked cool,” as we say in Bahston.)
btw, Lynn, my wife’s a veterinarian and has long been in the biz of implanting Avid chips in pets. It works.
Hmmm, just thinking… she’s never asked ME to have one implanted. I wonder if she’s giving me a message…

Chris
Guest
Chris

Perhaps the future is a combination of both technologies: the RFID chip is used to securely identify the patient and contains the key to unlock their data from the cloud. The data in the cloud can’t be used without the key (or without the patient explicitly authorizing its use) and the chip in the patient doesn’t have to carry data in a billion different formats to be useful.

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

Well if he gets lost, a scan by the Vet will hopefully get him back to his owner.

e-Patient Dave
Guest

I too suspect John was/is just ahead of his time.
My day-job industry, software delivered over the Web, is all the rage right now. (Specifically we do appointment systems but I’m talking about the underlying technology.) Some call it Cloud Computing, some call it SaaS (software as a service). Ten years ago it was called ASP, and it died. Absolutely the right idea, but ahead of its time.
Fwiw, my gut tells me we are *certainly* going to end up literally carrying our medical information in some machine-readable form. But that will happen once we can be sure it’s accurate. 🙂