Statistically speaking, you’re probably reading this on your smartphone. It goes everywhere with you. You care for it, put it in a case, keep it topped up with power, and it even sits by your side all night long.
Wouldn’t it be great if your iPhone could take care of you too? It’s not just a nice idea; it’s a feature built into iOS. Set up Medical ID today, and you can rest a little easier knowing any vital medical information and next of kin details are just a few taps away.
Let’s have a look at this potentially life-saving feature, and how to set it up on your own iPhone.
What Is Medical ID?
Medical ID is a safety feature built into your iPhone which can inform others of important medical information in the event of an emergency. You can store the following information in your Medical ID, which is viewable by anyone who knows how to access it:
- Your name, Apple ID picture, and date of birth.
- Known medical conditions (for example, asthma).
- Relevant medical notes relating to conditions (for example, any metal pins from past surgery).
- Known allergies and reactions.
- Any medication you are currently taking.
- Your blood type and organ donor status.
- Your weight and height.
- An emergency contact of your choosing.
Keep in mind that there’s no way of limiting this information to strictly emergency personnel. Anyone with physical access to your iPhone can find your Medical ID if they’re looking for it. This does raise some potential privacy concerns, but it’s a trade you’ll have to make if you want to use the feature.
Do Paramedics Check Medical ID?
Findings suggest that many paramedics and emergency responders do check for Medical ID. However, many others are unaware of the feature’s existence. Considering the feature was added to the iPhone in 2014 with iOS 8, it’s likely that awareness has grown among medical professionals over the past few years.
One Redditor posed this question to the /r/apple community in 2015, with a mixed bag of results. One trauma nurse and another paramedic confirmed that they’ve used it to great effect. Others either didn’t find the information useful, or didn’t know how to access it. Some were frustrated that not enough people make use of the feature.
One respondent on Quora noted: “When it’s at that point where an individual can’t provide any info it’s too late to be digging around the pocket for a phone. We resort to our own step by step assessment and procede [sic] with the appropriate treatment. We don’t always need to know what your past medical history is to treat the emergency.”
It’s increasingly likely that paramedics will receive exposure to the feature as part of their standard training. Yet it seems like more needs done to ensure that people are creating a Medical ID, and that emergency responders are trained to access the information.
Setting Up Your Medical ID
You can create your Medical ID by launching the Health app and tapping on the Medical ID tab. You can also head to Contacts, tap your name at the top, and tap Create Medical ID at the bottom. Use the Edit button to add, remove, or change any information, then hit Done to save your changes.
Important: For your Medical ID to be useful, you’ll want to enable the Show When Locked option on this screen. This will enable others to access the feature without unlocking your iPhone first.
You can add as much information as you like to the various fields, but keep in mind the privacy implications of the information you share. Your date of birth, name, and picture can be used to positively ID you. Any emergency contacts you nominate will have their phone number displayed, and whoever has your phone can call them.
When you use the Emergency SOS shortcut (instructions below) and proceed with an emergency call, iOS will send a map of your current location to any emergency contacts listed in this field.
How to Access Medical ID on an iPhone
To access your (or anyone else’s) Medical ID, use one of the following methods:
- Tap the side/power button five times to activate Emergency SOS until you see three sliders appear on screen, then choose Medical ID.
- On the Lock Screen tap Emergency then Medical ID.
Despite this information being easily accessible to those who know how, no other apps can access your Medical ID.
How to Access Medical ID on an Apple Watch
As of watchOS 3, the Apple Watch is both an emergency call button and a medical ID bracelet. When you press and hold the side button, you’ll see the Emergency SOS feature. This is where you’ll find the information listed in your Medical ID.
Considering many emergency responders are trained to look for a medical bracelet for clues about any existing conditions like diabetes or epilepsy, the Apple Watch might be better than your iPhone for this purpose. The feature has only been a part of the Watch for around two years, so first responders may not yet be familiar with it.
If you keep holding the button, you’ll connect to emergency services (your watch will detect and call the right number, regardless of where you are). Your Watch will then send your location to any emergency contacts listed in Medical ID.
Medical ID: A Feature You’ll Hopefully Never Need
Most of us probably won’t ever have any use for Medical ID, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth taking five minutes out of your day to set it up. If you’re OK with divulging some potentially life-saving information, Medical ID could really help emergency personnel deliver a higher standard of care in an emergency.