If you have a serious medical condition the chances are that you will be carrying a MedicAlert bracelet or necklace around with you everywhere you go. The MedicAlert system lets you fit a few lines of text on a piece of jewellery and gives an ID number that doctors can phone to get more detailed information. This can work well but if you have a complicated condition or for example a number of allergies it can be difficult to fit all the crucial information on.
The Tap2Tag is a new innovation that has the same basic idea but uses technology to store a much larger amount of data. The tags use NFC ,which most Android phones can read, to give a secure link to a page which contains your medical information.
In other words the user sets up an account on the tap2tag website and fills in all of their details and medical information. This can be updated to be correct whenever desired. The user then carries a tag around them in a wristband or attached to clothing. In an emergency anyone with a NFC reader – meaning almost any non-Apple smartphone can read the tag and get access to your information. If no-one has an NFC enabled device a phone number and code is also printed on the tag which can be called or looked up to get the information in a manner similar to MedicAlert. Finally you can set up emergency contacts so that if your details are accessed by the medical services a message is automatically sent via email or SMS to a small group such as family members.
The system seems like a very good idea and in particular the fact that you can update your medical information whenever you choose will be appealing to many. There are some obvious security problems – anyone who can see the tag and read off the code or brush their smart phone against it will be able to access your potentially confidential medical information. It’s a difficult balance between making the information accessible and making it available at the right time. In addition the tap2tag website does have a security hole of its own – it is vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug which is worrying on a service so dependent on their web servers holding confidential information.
One of the most surprising things about this system is the cost. The bracelets cost £12 each and cards and key fobs are available for £8. There is no subscription fee and so the small cost would be a one-off one. With that in mind this seems like a good idea for those particularly with rapidly changing or complicated medical issues if Tap2Tag can resolve their security issues.