By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
You can access your medical records without having to go through your doctor’s office to get them, thanks to a new website created by four Bay Ridge brothers with a flair for inventiveness.
The new website, AlwaysMed.com, created by Roland, Roger, George and Joseph Dib, puts your medical records at your fingertips.
The AlwaysMed.com service is free. Anyone can go on the website, create an online profile, and then access it. However, for $20 a year, subscribers can not only store their medical records, but take them on the go with a credit-card-shaped USB stick that fits in a wallet.
For fees ranging from $45 to $120, AlwaysMed does the “leg work” of contacting the subscriber’s doctors, gathering all of the medical records and entering them into the system, saving the subscriber the trouble of having to perform that task. The subscriber gives permission for the website to gather the medical records by signing a consent form.
A free cell phone app can connect users to all their medical records on the fly, according to Roland Dib, an engineer. “We designed the site to make it as easy as possible for people to use,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle. Brother Roger is also an engineer. Joseph is a physician and their brother George is a lawyer.
“We’re trying to put you in charge of your health,” Roland, at 51 the oldest of the four brothers, said.
The website comes in handy in many situations, the inventors said.
By accessing the website, a subscriber, or the subscriber’s caregiver, can immediately tell a specialist or an emergency room physician what medications they are taking, what drugs they are allergic to, when the last time they had a cardiogram and other vital pieces of information.
There is also a “Remind Me” section, that will tell a subscriber when it’s time make an appointment for an annual mammography or take a blood test. The website can also track a patient’s blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The website, which was launched a few months ago, already has 5,000 members, Roland said.
Dr. Joseph Dib, who serves as associate director of the emergency department at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, N.J., said that too many times he has seen up close how critically ill or injured patients did not get the right emergency care; not because of a doctor’s mistakes, but because medical personnel could not immediately access a patient’s medical history at a time of crisis.
But what really spurred the Dib brothers to create AlwaysMed.com was a medical emergency in the family.
“Five years ago my dad’s health started to deteriorate,” Roland Dib told the Eagle. Elias Dib, who brought his wife and children to the U.S. from their native Lebanon and settled in Bay Ridge in the early 1980s, was diagnosed with heart disease five years ago.
“My mother often would call us in the middle of the night because something was wrong with Dad. Then, he had a triple bypass. And he had to take certain medications. I used to wonder, ‘Am I going to be able to communicate to the EMT guys what medications he’s on?’ It is important to give the EMT information right away in an emergency situation; within seven minutes of their arrival. We wrote my father's information on a small card and had it laminated. When my father gave the card to one of his doctor’s the doctor thought it as amazing. It got us thinking and we developed the website from that. We worked on it for a couple of years before we launched it,” Roland Dib said.
“When our own dad had a heart attack it was critical and fortunate that I could give doctors his past medical history. When time is of the essence and every second counts, doctors need as much information as quick as possible to save a life. In a stressful situation like a car accident or a heart attack, it quickly becomes impossible,” Dr. Dib said. “Giving emergency medical personal access in a pinch can literally save a life.”
The website can also be of use in non-emergency situations, like your first visit to a new doctor or a specialist, Roland Dib said. “It can save you a lot of time and a lot of headaches. If they ask you a question about your medical history, you’ll have the answer within seconds,” he said.
“This service is also perfect for baby boomers who can carry their medical records with them at all times when they are away from home and it’s also perfect for parents buying such a service for their children who are away at college or camp or study abroad in Europe, Asia or anywhere overseas in the summer,” Dr. Dib said.
The brothers’ goal is to continually improve the website and attract new subscribers, Roland Dib said. "We believe it is a useful tool for people to have."
For more information, visit AlwaysMed.com.