Are implantable chips the future of medical data storage?

As many as 50,000 individuals worldwide are walking around with radio frequency identification implants in their bodies, according to a Wall Street Journal report. For now, many use them for small conveniences such as opening locks or as identification, but experts say there is significant potential for such devices in healthcare.

"In hospitals, you could have a small thing implanted to make sure this is the right patient or person for this operation, to reduce the number of errors there are in medical operations," Kevin Warwick, MD, with Coventry University in England, told Wall Street Journal.

Beyond helping fix the patient matching problem by giving individuals unique identifiers, Dr. Warwick said implants could offer a range of other medical benefits. Although the reality may not be close at hand, it might not be very long before patients are able to upload emergency contacts and medicine and allergy information to chips in their skin, and paramedics are trained to scan for implants that could pull up medical records.

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