Say hello to Iris, your modern day emergency alert

Today, the team and I are overwhelmed with excitement as we kickstart the public beta of Iris — your modern day emergency alert platform. Through hospital detection, Iris connects you with your loved ones, and your health data with medical professionals in the critical moment when you need it most — especially when you are mentally or physically unable to provide it yourself.

Once installed, Iris automatically detects you in a hospital. After remaining there for 10 minutes, Iris reaches out to confirm if you’re okay or not via a push notification. If everything’s okay, perfect, just hit the the button to confirm and Iris will go into the background again. If you’re not ok and Iris doesn’t get a confirmation from you, the emergency contacts you chose upon sign up will be informed via text message. Iris will also present your personal health card on the lock screen of your iPhone so ER staff can access your important health and personal data including your name, health status, spoken language, daily medication, and more. ER staff is also provided your emergency contact”s information and will be able to reach out themselves if they haven’t heard from your contacts already.

The genesis of the product was the result of a question I posed for Benedikt Lehnert as we were driving back to Berlin from his parent’s home in Southwest Germany. I questioned what would happen if we got into a car accident, were unconscious, and taken to the hospitaI. I was a foreigner in a country where no one could identify me as American beyond my passport, and that I probably speak English and could more than likely assume I’m relatively healthy–all of this on a critical timeframe. And who makes medical decisions for me when I can’t? Who could tell the doctors that I’m actually allergic to a specific medication they’re considering giving to me? Goodness, who tells my family that I may not live long enough for them to get there before I’m gone?

Anxiety ensued. Beyond my own personal feelings, there were some more scenarios we found when talking to people from around the world:

  • At what point does the elderly man with Alzheimer’s recall that he does in fact have family that can be by his side? Before or after he needed to make life changing health decisions since his health proxy couldn’t be located by the hospital?
  • What happens to the foreign woman with two children at a hospital in a third-world country, and who can’t communicate beyond her native language?
  • Who informs the doctor that the young woman on the bed is actually a cancer patient that signed a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) the last time she was at another hospital in that city? Hospital systems don’t talk to each other, so this is something they wouldn’t know.
  • Who becomes the voice for the nonverbal teenager with Autism, unable to share any of his family or health information with anyone? How will the doctors know to talk him down instead of making a snap-judgement that he’s just a violent boy who won’t cooperate?

All of these very real scenarios evoked a number of emotions in me, and as I was talking to countless people — both medical professionals and patients alike — I realized majority of them felt the same. More so than themselves, they were concerned about their loved ones getting into dangerous situations — what we found to be the main driver for wanting Iris. At the end of the day, we all want to feel safe, be it at home or on the go. It is a very basic human need.

While mobile technology has permeated our day-to-day routines, it hasn’t reached many of the scary corners of our lives. The modern technology is here though, and that’s where Iris as a platform is born. Critical data is the hardest to find and is often lost in critical moments. But in a time when information, communication, and technology are interconnected and at our fingertips, there’s no reason why any piece of information crucial to aiding you in a medical emergency should be delayed.

Iris is in every way, a companion to you, your health insurance, and your loved ones. Its goal is to be like any good friend — there when you need it most, not overbearing, and whose existence alone is comforting — even when you’re not actively communicating with Iris.

In a world where people often look first to our differences, one thing that holds true for all of us is having loved ones to lean on when things get too scary to bear. We all deserve to have a loved one by our side in times of need — nobody deserves to be alone. And we believe that no one should live with the regret of not making it on time to a loved one’s side due to lack of information. We believe there isn’t a single person that should have to live with regret of not making it on time to a loved one’s side simply because of lack of information.

From the start, we wanted to create a simple product that felt human, and I’m so excited to say that Iris is and will improve on being just that. The concept isn’t just that this is a health or communication app — it’s that Iris is an extension of the human qualities of medicine and health that we revere in our medical professionals. Any app can be efficient, but efficiency, coupled with human qualities, adds a whole other layer of depth.

What’s next for Iris? Going forward we’ll be focused on improving the connections to your loved ones, your digital health card, making Iris smarter and rolling out to other cities around the world as quickly as possible.

We’re in public beta, which means we’re beyond confident in what we’ve put out into the world, but some corners of the app need to be ironed out. So if you have any questions or thoughts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at hello@getiris.co, Twitter or Facebook. We’d love to hear and learn from you.

👉🏼 Go download it on the App Store now!


And to save the best for last, a huge thank you to everyone on the team for a never-ending supply of confidence, talent, spirit, and grit. You feel it in the product and it’s impossible to express my gratitude that I get to work with and learn from you all every day. The best part? We’re just starting.

Thank you 💙
–Cat

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