SOURCE: The Smart Card Alliance

May 19, 2008 14:36 ET

Personal Health Cards Store Life-Saving Medical Information, Speed Up Hospital Administration: From Smart Card Alliance/CTST Conference

PRINCETON JUNCTION, NJ--(Marketwire - May 19, 2008) - Another regional healthcare network in Spokane, Wash. is starting to use smart card technology, attendees learned during the healthcare track at the joint Smart Card Alliance annual meeting and CTST conference last week.

LifeNexus is starting to deploy its smart card-based Personal Health Card with Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS), a member of the Northwest Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO) connecting 38 hospitals in northwest Washington and Idaho, Christopher Maus, president and CEO of LifeNexus, announced.

The goal of a RHIO is to facilitate the sharing of electronic medical records between physicians, labs and hospitals across large geographic areas, but to make that work, "we have to engage the consumer," Maus said. "We are going to focus on the patients. The LifeNexus Personal Health Card will act as a personal key people use to unlock access to their medical information," he said.

Maus sees two important advantages to using smart card technology for storing personal health and insurance information -- security and portability. The LifeNexus card will store personal, insurance and medical information that people normally provide when they fill out forms at a doctor's office or hospital. It will also store any allergies, medicine restrictions, health conditions, and information about recent medical results and lab tests. The information is protected by a PIN, so consumers have control over who can access it. Initially the firm will focus on equipping emergency rooms to accept the card, speeding up admission and providing important medical information.

Paul Contino, Mount Sinai Medical Center's vice president of IT, agrees accurate patient identification is a critical issue in healthcare data management. "The challenge with RHIOs is the highly error prone process they use to match patients and data," said Contino. "Doctors won't use information unless they are certain the data is accurate."

Contino has led an effort at Mount Sinai to issue smart card-based Personal Health Cards (PHC) to patients. The goal is to make sure patients are accurately linked with their personal medical information. Language barriers, common names or even common addresses can lead to errors and result in commingled or duplicate patient records. Correcting those records is a big expense for hospitals; Mount Sinai has had two major database cleanup projects in the last three years, costing more than two million dollars each.

Mount Sinai joined with nine other institutions in the greater New York City area to create a regional HealthSmart Network and accept a common PHC.

More information about the Smart Card Alliance and these healthcare projects can be found at www.smartcardalliance.org.

About the Smart Card Alliance

The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use and widespread application of smart card technology.

Through specific projects such as education programs, market research, advocacy, industry relations and open forums, the Alliance keeps its members connected to industry leaders and innovative thought. The Alliance is the single industry voice for smart cards, leading industry discussion on the impact and value of smart cards in the U.S. and Latin America. For more information please visit http://www.smartcardalliance.org.

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