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How to Set Up Apple iPhone's Medical ID

Updated on September 11, 2015

Apple's Health App and How it Might Just Save Your Life

Apple's new Health App is a central location to help you keep track of health related information such as: weight, blood pressure, sleep, nutrition, heart rate and even steps taken during the course of a day. However, there is also a great built-in feature called Medical ID. It allows you to customize your pertinent medical information that may be important for a first responder to have access to in case of an emergency. This Medical ID can be accessed even if your phone is locked and contains such information as: who to contact in case of an emergency, what medications you currently take, your blood type, important medical history and more. If you own an iPhone, you owe it to yourself to fill out the information and activate the Medical ID. Follow the instructions below to do just that!

Finding Your Health App

The Health App comes preinstalled on iPhone software starting with ios 8. If your phone is running ios 8 or newer, you can find the application by doing a search from your (unlocked) home screen. Simply swipe down from the middle of the screen to pull down a search bar. Then enter "Health App" and it should appear in your results lists. Tap the icon and it will take you directly into the app.

Great! You're in!

Now that you have entered the Health App, you can access the Medical ID by tapping on the icon in the lower left hand corner of the screen that says "Medical ID". Not too difficult, right? Once you have done that, you will be brought to the screen that would appear if a fireman, police officer or EMT were to access your Medical ID. (A big thank you to all first responders for the work they do!) The upper right hand corner of the screen has a link to edit the information. Go ahead and click on it.

Now It's Time to Fill in Your Info!

Once you are in the editing screen, you can personalize the information on your Medical ID. By default, the name and birthdate are autofilled with your information from your contacts. On this screen is also where you will list your current medications, since some medicines don't play well with others (I put the dosage amounts in as well, just in case), any past or present medical conditions that may be important for someone to know, and be sure to list any allergies or reactions that you may have. Nothing worse than being given a pain killer that triggers projectile vomiting! IMPORTANT: For this to be visible from your lock screen, you must move the "Show When Locked" slider to the on position. If you don't, the Medical ID will only be available if your phone is unlocked and emergency personnel navigate into your Health App to view it. BE SURE TO TURN IT ON.

Don't Stop Now

Continuing on, there is a place to list your emergency contact information. The person you choose HAS TO BE IN YOUR CONTACTS. You can't just type in Bob at Walmart (unless Bob at Walmart is in your contact list). You can list multiple contacts, so if you know that Uncle Phil likes to nap with his phone on silent for most of the afternoon, go ahead and add a second or even third contact. If you know your blood type, be sure to list it. In an emergency it could save precious time if that information is readily available to the blood transfusionist. (I don't think that is a word, but you know what I mean!) Be sure to mark whether or not you are an organ donor and as far as the height and weight goes, it will be filled in automatically if you use the Health App already and have entered it in. If not, try not to fudge too much on it, the paramedics really aren't focused on your whether or not you are carry a few extra pounds from Thanksgiving, but an accurate weight will let them know if they should get help to move you if necessary.

The Final Exam

The screenshots below are meant to illustrate how to check that your Medical ID is functional (if your phone is locked and has a passcode). At the bottom left corner of the passcode entry screen is the word "Emergency". This allows someone to dial 911 without accessing the rest of the phone. It also allows them to view your Medical ID from the Emergency Call screen by clicking on the icon in the lower left hand corner. Try it yourself and make sure when you do, the accurate information is displayed.

Is It There?

So if you see a screen like the one below, Congratulations! You have now set up and turned on your Medical ID. President Obama is a pretty healthy guy, so you won't see any medical conditions, medications or allergies listed below. If you have entered them though, they will show up on your screen. Let's keep our fingers crossed that this is the first and last time this Medical ID is accessed, but have a little more peace of mind knowing that in the unlikely event that an emergency occurs, those that need this information will be able to find it. Well done, you!

Closing Thoughts and Privacy Concerns

Despite the fact that the Medical ID can quickly share important information with those who need it, I feel I should also mention that there are those who believe there is a privacy issue concerning the use of it. It isn't just first responders that can access your Medical ID. Basically, anyone with access to your phone can. So, anyone you give your phone to can (potentially) see who you list as your emergency contact, your height, weight, blood type, the medications you are taking and any other information you have provided. For me personally, that is a non-issue, since I don't let just anyone use or see my phone. If I trust someone enough for them to have my phone for 15 seconds or more, they probably already know that information about me.

In the end, only you can decide if the benefits outweigh the risks when utilizing the Medical ID feature on your phone. You can bet mine is turned on though.

Let me know!

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