Stethoscope hearrt

How eHealth cards can make sure we’re all A-OK

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eHealth is a topic I expect we’ll be hearing more and more about over the next few years, particularly with the World Health Organization predicting that over 2 billion of the world’s population will be over 60 by 2050. An ageing population means greater demands placed on our health services and it’s up to all of us working with the health industry to keep up.

That’s why I’m particularly pleased that we will be working closer than ever before with AOK (Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse, or the Health Insurance Fund) in Germany, which looks after around a third of the country’s population (about 25 million people). We’ll be issuing an additional 15 million second-generation eHealth cards, which will enable electronic prescriptions, and (with the holder’s consent) provide emergency services with allergy or drug intolerance information about the holder. The key here is that they are now built directly into the design of the card.

I believe that the better use we make of technology, the better the service which can be delivered. If my card can grant access to my online patient file, including my prescriptions, it reduces the risk of error and will allow health services to provide more tailored care based on my past, present and future needs.

One of the most common concerns about digitizing patient information is the perceived risk, should the card fall into the wrong hands. However, the eHealth card we will be providing for the German public under AOK will feature a number of integrated security features to help reduce fraud. The card will include a portrait photo of the insured person on the front, which, combined with the secure authentication function of the operating system, ensures the legitimacy of the rightful cardholder. All patient data on the card would be encrypted, meaning that, in order to read that information, you would need to have the card itself, the patient’s consent (in the form of a PIN code), and a doctor’s card to “request” the patient data. Some data, such as any allergies, may be available without the patient PIN in case they are unconscious, but would still require a doctor’s card, his PIN and the appropriate reader with two card slots.

KPMG Australia recently spoke at Gartner’s Infrastructure, Operations and Data Centre Summit, with Bernard Salt highlighting the necessity of ensuring the over-60s are well-looked after. If we prepare now, ensuring that we have the systems and technologies in place to cope with ageing populations and rising healthcare costs, to better identify patients and their treatments across borders, and help deliver technological advances as and when they happen, we might just be able to toast each others’ health for many years to come.

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