The German government’s plans to launch one of the most extensive e-health projects in the world has boosted a number of major smart card companies. The German system, which aims to reduce costs and ensure that services and benefits are better delivered to citizens, will involve 80 million patients, 350,000 doctors and dentists, 2,000 hospitals and 22,000 pharmacies.
Gemalto is the latest smart card manufacturer to announce its involvement in the initiative, its products having become fully compliant with the latest specifications from Gematik, the organisation in charge of defining and approving the healthcare infrastructure. Gemalto has received the first orders to supply and personalise patient cards for the Bavaria, Baden-Württenberg, North Rhine Westphalia and Saxony regions. The first trial phase – involving 70,000 cards in seven regions – began this month. A larger-scale experiment involving 300,000 cards is due to start in 2007, which will be followed by mass deployment.
Gemalto says: “The German authorities are implementing this new infrastructure based on high-end microprocessor cards to provide better quality of service to insurance beneficiaries while increasing the security of access to personal data. This latest-generation card will act as an active security device to perform strong authentication of the patient, therefore contributing to reducing fraud costs and increasing privacy. It will enable access to an electronic medical file, and will include emergency data such as blood group, allergy alerts and ongoing treatments records. In addition, the new health card will be able to carry electronic prescriptions, which will significantly reduce paperwork.”
Authorised healthcare professionals will be able to read the patient’s personal information only if he or she consents by entering the card’s PIN into the system. “For insurance funds, the deployment of this new generation of health cards will significantly trim administrative and operational costs,” says Gemalto. “It will avoid duplicate examinations and lessen unnecessary use of healthcare services. Furthermore, by allowing automatic data update once the card is in the field, the new system will enable insurance funds to cut their cost of ownership and optimise their investments.”
In another move, Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) has today announced it has supplied public health insurer Deutsche Angestellten Krankenkasse (DAK) with patient data cards, equipped with personalised certificates. The cards will initially be issued by DAK in the northern city of Flensburg, before being deployed to other regions.