Enter Medical ID Info on Your Cell Phone

Published February 4, 2019

My little brother recently taught me a lesson. While growing up that is not something that I would have readily admitted—after all, what could a little brother possibly know that a big sister doesn’t?  But my brother told me about a valuable cell phone feature that I knew nothing about. In fact, I thought it was so valuable that I have already incorporated it into my own phone, as well as my husband’s and kids’ devices.

The feature is a Medical ID screen. It serves much the same purpose as a medical ID bracelet or a medical ID for a wallet—a quick snapshot for first responders to reference in an emergency. This Medical ID screen can be found on any Apple iPhone running iOS 8 software or newer.

The Medical ID on a cell phone makes pertinent health information readily available to an emergency responder. Should a first responder need access to emergency contacts, allergy information, current medicines, etc., they can easily access it from an iPhone—no passcode is necessary. But the ID is only useful if the information is filled in.

To find the Medical ID screen, go to your Health app on your iPhone. This app is a white box with a red heart in it. Once the app is opened, at the bottom right of the screen, tap the Medical ID tab. A blank medical form will appear. From here, hit Edit at the top right, and start filling in the information that you’d like. From medical conditions, allergies and reactions, blood type, weight and more, you can list any health-related info that an emergency responder might need to be aware of. You can also add emergency contact names and numbers from this screen. These contacts will be dialed automatically when an Emergency SOS call is made from your phone. An Emergency SOS call involves either pressing and holding the side button five times or pressing the side button while simultaneously holding the volume button.

Emergency responders can access this medical information from the Lock screen without even typing in the passcode. They do this through a specific Emergency tab. This tab is at the bottom left of the Lock screen. It is not typically a tab I would ever touch, as I don’t want to accidentally dial 9-1-1. For an emergency responder, however, this is where the medical emergency info is found. When the Emergency tab is tapped, at the bottom left the Medical ID tab will populate in red. Once that is likewise tapped, all the medical info you’ve entered can be found, allowing first responders to access your medical history without the need for a passcode.

Another angle to make emergency info available is to handwrite your info on a piece of paper, take a picture of it, and make this photo your wallpaper. Then, instead of seeing a family photo when you open your phone, your personal information is always visible instead. I have seen people use this approach in the event their phone is lost.  They write “If this cell phone is found, please call XXX-XXX-XXXX”. They snap a picture of the note and make this their screensaver.

Filling out the medical form does mean others—not just first responders—can gain access to your personal information. It’s a matter of weighing the importance of having your medical information readily accessible to potentially anyone versus having nothing accessible to anybody.

Organ donation is also possible from the Apple Medical ID tab. Simply tap the Sign Up with Donate Life button to register as an organ donor, if you haven’t already done so through the license branch.

I think the Medical ID field is an important service that your phone offers in an effort to protect you. Honestly, I’m kind of embarrassed that I didn’t know this feature existed. Although I learned about this app as a result of unfortunate circumstances, the information my little brother shared is something that I hope other cell phone users are already taking advantage of. Or, if you aren’t already taking advantage of this feature, I hope you will soon.