Radio Frequency Your Way to Good Health

AFP reports on a new study by the American Medical Association recommending the implantation of RFID tags to carry medical information in case of an emergency. This, of course, is an excellent idea, especially for people with particular allergies or medical conditions which could complicate emergency care. There are some practical questions to work out – such as how you keep something the size of a grain of rice from moving around under your skin – but in general, the technology is ready to be deployed widely and start saving lives.

Naturally some patients have privacy concerns, especially about “active” versus “passive” tags, but these also need to be put into perspective. Particularly if you are contemplating a stripped-down version of a medical RFID tag with, say, just your blood type and known allergies, where exactly do the privacy worries come from? Are identity thieves going to be able to hack into your money market account armed with the personal data that you’re O positive and allergic to penicillin?

There is one small cause for concern, however, at the end of the AFP story. Apparently the study made a point of noting that “It recommended that the devices not be implanted without the informed consent of patients…” I would have like to have thought that the AMA would simply take that guideline for granted.

For more background, read Jim Harper’s study on RFID and privacy.