Guest: Heidi Jones
Presenter: Tabetha Moreto
Guest Bio: Heidi Jones is the CEO of the Australia MedicAlert Foundation – a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing a 24/7 emergency response service and identification service. She leads the foundation’s passionate and experienced team to manage relationships with MedicAlert’s thousands of members, work with healthcare professionals and emergency service stakeholders. Heidi has extensive experience in business operations, community engagement, communication and strategic planning – particularly in health care and not-for-profit sectors. Before joining MedicAlert, she worked for almost a decade with Hender Consulting, offering human resource and organisational development consulting services, and prior to this in leadership positions within the health and community services sectors both private and NFP as Director of Corporate Services at SCOSA (Spastic Centre of South Australia) and as General Manager of the Adelaide Eye & Laser Centre a leading refractive and cataract day surgery.
Segment Overview: In today’s interview, Heidi Jones, CEO of Australia MedicAlert Foundation comes back to the program to promote the MedicAlert ID offered by her foundation. They come in form of bracelets or even necklaces that can reduce treatment errors which may result from not having a patient’s health record during an emergency situation or upon hospital admission. It also provides quick recognition of one’s medical conditions (like allergies) and medications which leads to faster and more effective medical treatment. Heidi explains why having a MedicAlert ID is so important have for both children and adults.
Tabetha Moreto: Hello everyone, welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host for today, Tabetha Moreto. Our guest today is Heidi Jones, CEO of the Australia MedicAlert Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing a 24/7 emergency response service and identification service. Today, we’re going to talk about the MedicAlert ID which is being offered by her foundation. She’s going to explain to us what that is exactly. This is her second appearance on the show. Without further ado, welcome back to the show Heidi. It’s so nice to have you here.
Heidi Jones: Thank You Tabetha and thank you for inviting me back.
T: My pleasure. Can you please tell the audience especially those who didn’t hear your first interview, about yourself and your organization?
H: Tabetha, I’ve been here as the CEO for MedicAlert just over three years. As you said in the intro, we are a national not-for-profit organization and we are dedicated to providing a 24/7 personal emergency identification and information service. So I think a really apt description of MedicAlert is that we are an emergency data information provider and we provide a real vital service in the health and wellness prevention of individuals.
T: Very interesting. Now let’s talk about this MedicAlert ID. Can you please tell us what that is exactly?
H: Sure. Look the MedicAlert service, it’s more than just an ID. The actual MedicAlert service it’s made up of a couple of components. So firstly, we’re a service where all of our members join us and they provide us their consent to house and disclose their medical health and emergency details. The MedicAlert service provides a body-worn medical ID and that’s normally in the form of a bracelet or a necklace and they’re worn at the pulse point and that’s where emergency personnel and health professionals obviously check in emergency situations. The ID itself is engraved with summary medical information on the back of the ID and the ID is also engraved with our national toll-free 24/7 emergency telephone number and the unique member identification number. So the service, the medicalert service is actually used therefore in the broader health and medical sector to identify and obtain information about medical conditions about our members and individuals but we’re also used in the disability sector. So MedicAlert as a service is registered as a national disability insurance provider. We’re also a DVA service provider and we’ve also negotiated rebates for our service and our wearable ID with a number of private health funds as well.
T: Wow, this sounds like a very interesting ID. Is this something for children or for adults or both?
H: Our service and the wearable IDs are basically used for anyone that has any need to have a medical condition, medication regimes known and we provide services basically from birth to death so it’s all age groups or demographic.
T: That’s good to know that this service is available for children and adults.
H: Ultimately the product, the wearable ID is available for newborns right through to elderly and we have the product itself, the product range, we have done a lot of work in the last 18 months with various different organizations to ensure that whether the product meets specific demographics as well as children with autism that have severe skin sensitivity to be able to wear the product. We’ve designed a range of products specifically for autistic children as well.
T: Yes. It’s a good thing to know that a foundation like yours has invented this ID for people especially with certain medical conditions.
H: That’s correct. MedicAlert originated in 1955 in America and moved into other countries around the world and certainly into Australia in 1971. So the MedicAlert service is exceptionally well-known. The IDs are used in training purposes right throughout Australia with paramedic training as well and the health professionals are the ones that actually recommend our members to come to us and as a not-for-profit organization, that’s absolutely critical for us because it’s the health sector that generates our membership base.
T: Very interesting. So aside from this MedicAlert ID, do you have any other big current events, issues, products or strategies you like to promote on the show?
H: The issues that are relevant I guess to the entire sector and certainly to MedicAlert is the technology and the digital changes that are and certainly within the health environment. So digital disruption is our big strategic focus area. There are obviously competitors in the wearable ID market and these online retailers, they’re not able to compete or replicate the MedicAlert service. There’s a number of increasing apps on smartphones that can store emergency contact and health and medical information. But some of these new technologies aren’t really fully baked and there isn’t necessarily a cohesive system associated to them that’s fully understood by emergency service professionals that actually access the information that we hold on behalf of our members. So there are some practical implications that may limit some of these technologies such as lock screens on smartphones and we also know that paramedics and emergency services personnel are not keen or they’re not able to actually access personal items to obtain that information in an emergency situation when they have to make a quick decision. So from a disruption perspective, we know that the beauty of the MedicAlert service is that the MedicAlert ID which is worn around the pulse point that’s checked by paramedics in that emergency situation and that provides them that critical piece of information for their decision-making. If they need that additional information as they’ve stabilized the patient, they do contact our 24/7 emergency response center and they ask for that additional information. And we have approximately 200 calls a month into our 24/7 emergency hotline where they’re asking for additional information beyond what’s engraved on the ID. And that’s across all of the information that we hold which may be advance care directives, the living wills, other treatment plan and all of the other types of information such as next-of-kin details, it just depends on what the emergency situation is that they’re responding to. So from a big strategy picture, we know that the current medicalert service which is tried and tested, is relevant and will remain relevant. Our strategy moving forward is to ensure that we’re complementary to the new technologies that are being introduced.
T: Thank you for sharing that information with us Heidi. And it’s a good thing to know, despite the fact that there’s a lot of competition out there, your MedicAlert ID sounds like the best one to have.
H: Well we know that it’s highly valued and relevant particularly to the health community being a MedicAlert member not only benefit our member, it benefits their family or their carers. But as I said it also benefits the emergency sector and health professionals. So anyone that has that need and to have their medical condition, medication or they may suffer allergies, they might have communication difficulties, they may be prone to wandering or they’ve got implants, it’s so broad on where we assist. So that benefits the individual that we can articulate that and communicate that to them. The family members, they know that they’ve got peace of mind if their loved one is out of the home and they’re not with them, they will be correctly represented and appropriate treatment will be provided. And the way that we work, we know the value that the health professionals put in store without the data that we hold because we take the individual’s information that they may provide and we also take the health professional provided information and we ensure that it’s accurate and complete, we edit it so that that vital critical information is engraved onto the alerting wearable ID and we express it in valuable term to a first responder based on international medical and medication standard. And in tough end, you’ve got to remember that paramedics and first responders have got really little time in emergency situations to be trying to go here or there to try to obtain additional information and they need to know that they can rely on the quality of the data that they’re receiving. MedicAlert does provide quality data for them.
T: That’s good to know. Heidi, I would love to talk to you more but we’re running out of time. But before we go Heidi please tell our audience especially those who are interested in purchasing a MedicAlert ID, how can they do that?
H: They can come to our website which is www.medicalert.org.au or they can call our membership services toll-free number 1-800-882-222. They can sign up to be a MedicAlert member, it’s a very simple process. There is an annual member subscription fee of $49 and they can select the MedicAlert body-worn ID of their choice which start from $35 and they can have update their information securely online at any point of time that their conditions change.
T: That’s wonderful. Thank you so much Heidi for coming on the show again, I really appreciate it.
H: Lovely to talk with you Tabetha, thank you so much.
T: And that was Heidi Jones, CEO of the Australia MedicAlert Foundation. We just been talking about the amazing MedicAlert ID. If you like this interview, transcripts and archives are available at www.hpr.fm. We’re on all social media platform so don’t forget to follow, like and subscribe. Show us some love by subscribing to our HPR YouTube channel. We’re also available for download on SoundCloud and iTunes. I’m Tabetha Moreto and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.