The Hanover-based Sickle Cell Disease Association of America announced a pilot program with the MedicAlert Foundation to enhance the safety and well-being of people living with sickle cell disease.

The program aims to improve access to timely, effective emergency care for people experiencing a sickle cell crisis. The MedicAlert Foundation provides lifesaving medical identification and emergency response services for millions of people living with chronic health conditions.

It will provide participants with a MedicAlert digital health profile to securely store their health information, treatment and pain plans, medications, physician information, emergency contacts and more. Each participant will also receive a customized Smart Medical ID Card, which provides easy access to their health information and physician-prescribed pain management plan via a QR code.

More than 100,000 Americans live with sickle cell disease, a genetic blood disorder that affects red blood cells. Acute pain episodes known as sickle cell crises are one of the most common and debilitating symptoms of sickle cell disease. These crises can be unpredictable and extremely painful, lasting from a few hours to a few weeks. They’re the main reason people with sickle cell disease seek emergency treatment.

However, many emergency physicians are not well versed in sickle cell disease and treatment protocols and, with the rise of the opioid crisis, emergency department providers are cautious about providing the powerful pain medication needed to quell a sickle cell crisis; sometimes sickle cell patients are unfairly labeled as drug seekers by emergency department personnel who don’t understand the disease.

Anyone interested in participating in the pilot should contact their local Sickle Cell Disease Association of America chapter or email MedicAlert at [email protected].