Leading Sickle Cell Organization and MedicAlert Foundation Launch Pilot Program to Improve Emergency Care During Sickle Cell Pain Crises

Non-profits partner to help people with sickle cell disease get faster, better emergency care.

HANOVER, MD – Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA), the leading national organization and voice for people with sickle cell disease (SCD), today launched a pilot program with MedicAlert Foundation to enhance the safety and well-being of people living with sickle cell disease (SCD).

Acute pain episodes known as sickle cell crises are one of the most common and debilitating symptoms of SCD. These crises can be unpredictable and extremely painful, lasting from a few hours to a few weeks. They’re the number one reason people with SCD seek emergency treatment.

However, SCD patients seeking treatment for a sickle cell crisis face hurdles to getting the care they need in the Emergency Department (ED). The goal of the pilot program is to improve access to timely, effective emergency care for people experiencing a sickle cell crisis.

The program provides participants with a MedicAlert digital health profile to store their physician-approved pain plan, physician contact information, and other vital health data. Each participant also receives a customized Smart Medical ID Card, which provides easy access to their health information and pain plan via a QR code.

The goal is to shortcut time to diagnosis and treatment. When seeking emergency treatment, participants will present their Smart ID Card to share their health history with ED personnel – confirming their SCD status, and providing the critical details needed for ED personnel to provide care.

“With more than 100,000 people in the U.S. living with SCD, finding an intervention to help improve the speed and quality of ED care would be hugely impactful,” said Regina Hartfield, President and CEO of SCDAA. “For this program, we’re leveraging Medicalert’s decades of experience providing medical information in emergencies – as well as MedicAlert’s visibility in the medical community – to help people living with sickle cell.”

MedicAlert Foundation is a leading nonprofit providing lifesaving medical ID and emergency response services for millions of people living with chronic health conditions.

“Since 1956, MedicAlert has been globally trusted by both emergency medical personnel and people living with serious health conditions,” stated Karen Cassel, MedicAlert Foundation’s President and CEO. “We’re pleased to launch this pilot during Sickle Cell Awareness Month. Our hope is to equip and empower SCD patients with tools to help them quickly get the care they need during a pain crisis.”

The pilot will run for one year. Two-hundred fifty adults in states with significant sickle cell populations are being recruited to participate in the first round.

“We believe this program has the potential to significantly improve outcomes for people experiencing sickle cell crises,” Hartfield said. “With positive results, we’ll seek additional funding to expand the program nationally.”

More details about the program, including full eligibility guidelines and how to apply, are available at medicalert.org/sicklecellpilot. Anyone living with SCD who has additional questions about the pilot should contact either their local SCDAA chapter, or email MedicAlert at sicklecellpilot@medicalert.org.