FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - When a Parkland doctor began working with others on an idea to store medical information safely online in the "cloud," little did he know that it would save his life.
It turns out that his online medical records could speak for Dr. Michael P. Angelillo when he couldn't.
Paramedics were able to access his encrypted medical files from their laptop after he was left speechless with fluid filling his lungs.
But the EMTs saw from his records that a virus had recently infected his heart. They rushed him to Northwest Medical Center in Margate, Fla.
"Surgery saved me," said Angelillo.
Ultimately, doctors blamed an aortic aneurysm for his medical emergency - not the virus - but they might not have performed the emergency surgery if they hadn't known about his previous heart problems, Angelillo said.
Now the doctor, who is an internist and rheumatologist, is working with a high-powered team that includes an Entrepreneur of the Year and former Fortune 500 executive to bring a patent-approved online medical network system to the public.
The Universal Healthcare Network will securely store a client's medical information online for doctors and other medical personnel to obtain, including during emergencies.
Network staff enter a patient's medical records, images, lab results, medications, allergies and special instructions to an encrypted secure system, which doctors can access using their National Provider Identification numbers that they are required to have under the Affordable Care Act.
Patients can give permission for the doctors to look online at their record. Or if unconscious, the doctors will know about the availability of the online records by patients carrying a Network logo keychain or a sticker placed in their cars' windshield.
"The whole point is that doctors will be getting instantaneous records so they can give accurate treatment," Angelillo said. "We will be able to help reduce medical errors and costs."
The savings will come from doctors not having to order medical tests or procedures if recent results are already online in the patients' online records, he adds.
Angelillo and others have been working on the Universal Healthcare Network for four years.
"No one has been paid to do this," said Network founder Vic Maitland, a former advertising executive and Pittsburgh Steelers pro football player who has helped raise millions of dollars for charity with the NFL Alumni Association. "We just have a lot of enthusiasm to get something done."
Maitland recruited Angelillo, the author of two medical books, who is now the Network's co-founder and chief medical counselor.
The Network's CEO is Terry Tognietti, a former Proctor & Gamble executive who grew disposable diaper maker Drypers into a $350 million company and was once on the cover of an INC magazine issue.
Maitland said he and other leaders have tried to keep a low profile as they work out the details of the network. He cautioned it is still a young company and he and others haven't finalized all the details.
But once it's fully operational, Angelillo said individuals will be able to pay the network about a $15 yearly fee to keep their medical information online. He also envisions insurance and healthcare companies signing up members.
The Obama administration has touted the idea of having an online system set up for doctors to retrieve information as a way to cut costs and decrease the duplication of medical services.
So far, six U.S. Congressional members have introduced bills this year to require some medical information be available online, at least to share between federal agencies such as the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration, according to the nonprofit Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.
A spokeswoman for the society said she could not comment on the Universal Healthcare Network.
"We don't talk about specific products or companies because we have corporate members representing those companies," said Joyce Lofstrom in an email. "We are vendor-neutral."
But Angelillo hopes the Universal Healthcare Network will change how doctors work.
After all, he said, "It saved my life."