a very personal story. . .

Being no 'spring chicken', I suffer from several health conditions (ominously referred to in these pandemic times as co-morbidities!).  As a consequence, I am acutely aware that, should I become incapacitated in some way, then giving first responders or carers access to this medical information would significantly improve my prognosis.

After some research, I discovered that all front line emergency workers (Police, Fire fighters, Paramedics & hospital nursing staff etc.) are trained to look in a non-responsive patient's wallet, purse, bag or pockets for just such medical notifications.

They also examine a patient's wrists for 'medical alert' bracelets.  These hypoallergenic silicone bands are now widely available to purchase on the internet at around a fiver, and cover a wide variety of conditions and drugs. . .  but they are generic, and each only alerts to one specific condition or medication.

I am diabetic, I take anticoagulants (so called 'blood thinners'), beta-blockers and a vasodilator for a heart condition. . .  so I currently wear four*.  The problem is, I can't wear them all on one wrist.  They tangle with one another and catch on clothing, so I have two on each arm, but my concern (however valid it might be) is that, finding two, they may not look for the others.

*I should, in fact, display at least one further wrist band, but the medication prescribed for that particular condition changes regularly and I have just ordered a third replacement this year.  However, even when wide awake and alert I still can't remember the names and dosages of all of these drugs!

Thank goodness I don't have any dangerous allergies, or I would run out of arms!  :o)

MY FIRST SOLUTION:
What I did was type up and print out a list of my meds and a brief medical history, which covered around half a sheet of A4 in 10pt text, folded this up and kept it in my mobile 'phone case (I don't carry a wallet).  When my medications changed, I edited the sheet and printed a replacement.

I soon discovered some problems however. . .

Whilst there are slots in my 'phone case for credit cards and driving licence etc., these were way too small to take the sheet, no matter how thin the paper, or how tightly I was able to fold it.  As a result, it had to reside alongside my emergency £20 note in the 'cash' pocket of the case. . .  but it was concealed (which rather defeated the object) and I could barely close the case due to the added bulk.

More importantly;  if I lost my 'phone, or had it stolen, then someone of questionable character would have access to my sensitive medical history AND my identity!  Remember, it was sharing the 'phone case with my driving licence. . .

A BETTER SOLUTION

In March of 2020 the penny finally dropped!  As a web developer by profession, I constructed a simple web page that I could edit whenever a change in my circumstances or medication demanded.  It also meant that, rather than a printed sheet, all I needed to carry was a slip of paper with the page's web address, and which I could locate in a far more prominent position.

The added benefit of this solution was that, if my 'phone was lost, I could turn off this page in seconds. . . protecting my privacy.

Having shown this mechanism to friends and acquaintances, I was surprised at the positivity of their response, and was asked to provide a similar page for several of them too!  Although by no means a formal focus group, that reaction was the catalyst that eventually led me to resign my long-term employment and begin to the development of MyAlerts!

MY THREE FURRY CHILDREN

My self-built alerts page had been live for around six months when a futher concerning thought occurred to me.  I live alone, apart from three (quite elderly) rescue terriers, in a fairly remote location and rarely had visitors. . .  especially during the total lockdown that existed at the time.

Although I was confident that the information in my alerts page would serve me well in the event that I experienced a medical problem whilst away from home, what would become of Dizzy, Whacko and Kip?  They would be locked in the house alone, and it could be days before someone could be alerted to the fact.

They may be smart, but they can't cook frozen chicken thighs or open a tin of Chum. . .  so I added a further section to my alerts page with the contact details for a trusted friend who knows the dogs and could care for them in my absence.  This became the 'pets@home' element of MyAlerts!

making MyAlerts! affordable

As a final point;  no matter how useful and comprehensive we were able to make the commercial version of MyAlerts!, if the price was too high then the whole project would be an expensive, if interesting, exercise in redundancy.

The approach I chose to take seems counter intuitive, being completely contrary to the way that such software is normally developed.

Rather than define the functionality and then determine the cost of its design, implementation and roll-out, what I did was start from a supportable market price that would bring MyAlerts! into the reach of those who need it most. . .  then engineer the system to meet this constraint.

That retail price is, as you now know, a penny a day.