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When Victoria Bill suffered a mild heart attack last year, son Eric Richardson was angry.
His mom turned out fine, but it was the “What if?” that kept Richardson up at night. And it was the lack of information that Bill carried with her to the emergency room that made it even scarier.
Juggling multiple health issues, Bill had resorted to carrying around her medical information on index cards.
When Richardson found out that information didn’t make it with her to the hospital, he was livid.
“There has got to be something that is dynamic you can change and it goes with you,” he thought.
Turns out, Richardson just hadn’t created it yet.
He partnered with his mom and longtime friend Oklahoma City Police Department Master Sgt. Frank Torres to come up with an innovative type of medical record worn around the wrist.
The red and white bands themselves are roughly an inch in width and made of silicone gel. There are no wires or circuitry, just a unique quick response, or QR, code stamped onto each one.
The code provides a link to a patient’s medical information.
“I had to kind of laugh at him,” Bill says. “It was always a joke between us because we were always bouncing ideas off each other. I didn’t know a whole lot about it at the time.”
But once she researched it, she liked the opportunities the QR technology provided.
ScanMed QR offers patients the ability to take a full medical snapshot with them. Since all of the information is user-uploaded, customers can choose what goes with them. A date stamp also is recorded that allows the reader to know the last time information was updated.
Now 59, Bill has lived much of her life with chronic illness. At age 13, she learned she had epilepsy. In her mid-30s, a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis followed.
“Those bring a host of medical issues with them,” Richardson says. “There was never anything that really encompassed the medical conditions she had or had the ability to change that information or update it without having to buy a bunch of different products.”
So he incorporated Rocket Surgery Concepts LLC in October 2011. He quit his full-time job in March and has focused on the new company since.
“Together, he and I dived headfirst into it,” Bill says. “It wasn’t too long before we found out we had something.”
Richardson hopes sales exceed $500,000 for ScanMed QR’s first year.
But the business faces the same hurdles most start-ups do: For the technology to work, there must be technology on the other end.
Richardson says since most people carry smartphones with them everywhere they go, that’s something they didn’t have to worry about.
But what about getting first responders to use it?
“That’s what the biggest challenge is,” Richardson says.
Most recently, he was able to get some rack cards providing information inside metro Homeland pharmacy waiting areas.
But when seconds count, it’s still that EMT, paramedic or police officer who needs to know what to look for.
“Showing [first responders] how much time they save and the access they have to all the information, it becomes a deal where they look at it and say, ‘This is incredible,’” he says, “because they’re getting more information than they ever could from a driver’s license or medic-alert bracelet.”
Bill says she plays a big role in research for the company, and that she is pursuing some more fashionable alternatives.
And although she hasn’t heard any personal feedback on the lifesaving benefits of the product, she thinks time will only tell.
“In my heart of hearts, I’d like to see the reaction (from a medical provider),” Bill says. “But it would be a high price to pay to be lying there.”