Microchipping for Better Human Health?

The AP issued an article this week (picked up in many pubs, I’m sure — here’s a link) about injecting microchips into humans, in part to improve their healthcare.

The idea is that there are a number of problems we human beings could solve if we just had a microchip implanted in our arms. For example it could identify us if we needed to enter a nuclear power plant, or it could replace a credit card so we could make purchases, just by walking by a cash register that could read the chip in our arms. Healthcare-related applications include: it could figure out who we are if we have Alzheimers or another dementia and can’t find our way home. Or if we have a life-threatening illness and passed out or could not talk, it would identify the condition we had, such as diabetes or heart problems. Or it might contain all our health insurance information, or even the list of drugs and doses we take in case someone needed to help us with those things.

The chips are called RFID: Radio Frequency Identification. They are the size of a large splinter, and they get injected under your skin. Whatever information is included in the chip can be read by RFID scanners.

These RFIDs are already used in a variety of non-human applications. For example, you can get your pet implanted with one and if your pet gets lost, the vet has the scanner that can tell who your pet belongs to. Or if you keep cattle… well…. I don’t think a major portion of my readers are cattle farmers. Some maybe, but not too many.

Anyway — call me old fashioned — but let me humbly share my opinion on these human applications for RFIDs.


Just in case there is anyone who questions how I think about them — I think they are a lousy idea for humans. There are way too many ways such an identifier could be misused, and almost nothing positive it can do that can’t be handled in some other way.

If I ever want to visit a nuclear power plant, I’ll figure out another way. If I get Alzheimer’s and my family is worried I will wander away, or if I develop diabetes or heart problems, then I”ll just wear one of those medical ID bracelets. And if I need to make a credit card purchase, I’ll happily pull the card from my wallet.

Nope. This slope is just way too slippery. Don’t even think about it…. well….. unless you want to get your dog back.

Want more tools and commentary for sharp patients?
Sign up for Every Patient’s Advocate once-a-week or so email tips
Or link here to empower yourself at
Trisha Torrey
Scroll to Top