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MedicAlert Foundation: A Legacy of Innovation

Innovation is more than a buzzword in the health industry, it’s the only path forward. Every element of the healthcare experience will change with the development of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), virtual or augmented reality, higher and higher speed data connections, and accurate wearable devices. Data flowing from thousands and thousands of sources funneling into AI built to create predictive modeling will allow for earlier diagnosis and preventative measures to many of the health problems we face today. Advanced genomic studies will help create a truly, biologically, personalized care plan to best meet an individual’s needs. The ideas brought forth in science fiction books from my childhood, are now just science and are sitting on our horizon.

So what does a 60 year old non-profit organization from California’s other valley have to do with high tech innovation in health? Everything.

Most everyone knows of MedicAlert Foundation because of our iconic bracelet in the shape of our logo. Whether a childhood friend wore a bracelet because of his type 1 diabetes diagnosis or an older member of your family wears one today for their heart condition, MedicAlert is synonymous with a personally engraved metal bracelet that alerts first responders and good Samaritans to a potentially life-threatening condition in a time of need. Sure there are other bracelet companies out there, but nothing compares to the real thing. That bracelet, MedicAlert’s logo, is a beacon to the first responder community signaling there is more information readily available to help treat a person with appropriate care and avoid causing unnecessary harm. The bracelet stands as a shining example of a situation where low-tech can deliver a positive outcome, so where is the innovation? I’m getting to that.

Since 1956, MedicAlert Foundation has served a mission to protect and save lives by serving as the global information link between members (everyone who wears one of our IDs) and rescuers during medical emergencies and other times of need. We answer the phone to emergency calls 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and we have done so without fail for 60 years. To be able to do this day in and day out, MedicAlert Foundation has always been on the forefront of innovation. Whether it is having one of the oldest and longest running toll free telephone numbers, buying one of the first commercial microfiche machines on the market, or adopting a cloud based telephony system to enable our emergency care team to operate offsite during a natural disaster, we are innovating how information can be made available in a safe and secure way during an emergency.

Just last week, members of MedicAlert Foundations executive team and board of directors converged on SXSW Health in Austin, Texas. SXSW Health focuses on innovations that build and support the ecosystem of patients, providers, payers, policy makers, designers, entrepreneurs, and investors to improve outcomes in health. More simply, it is a lot of really bright people sharing ideas in order to innovate and make health better. We sat down with leaders from a variety of industries to share ideas on how new and changing technology can be used to enable MedicAlert to serve our mission better, faster, more accurately, and to protect many more people.

When even the sky is no longer a limit, there are some truly amazing things on the way. Over our 60 year history, we have gained the trust of doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and millions of members who count on us every day. We keep that trust in mind as we innovate in order to remain focused on what’s most important: supporting those who rely on MedicAlert Foundation. We’re proud of our heritage and excited about what the future holds.