In healthcare information technology circles, John Halamka, 44, is well-known as the Boston physician not with a chip on his shoulder but in his upper right arm.
In the tradition of doctors who take their own medicine, in late 2004 Halamka had a rice-grain-sized radio frequency identification chip implanted in his arm for firsthand field testing. The chip carries a 16-digit medical ID number that would, when scanned, enable a clinician to pull up his medical history at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the flagship hospital of the CareGroup Healthcare System where Halamka serves as chief information officer.
In addition, he also is the chief executive officer of the MA-SHARE regional health information organization based in Waltham, Mass., and chairman of the Health Information Technology
Standards Panel, a federally funded body seeking to harmonize healthcare data standards for use in the national health information network. "As new data is available about patients such as lab results, medication history or data from hospital monitoring systems, doctors will immediately be notified by page, phone, e-mail (or) fax based on the urgency of the issue," Halamka says.