Boosting Healthcare Security with Smart Cards

The Smart Card Alliance has put together a list of frequently asked questions about how smart cards work in a healthcare environment, and provided excellent answers. A smart card resembles a typical credit card, but is embedded with a small microprocessor chip, which makes it “smart.” That chip is a powerful minicomputer that can be programmed in different ways to boost security.

Data and applications can be securely stored and accessed on the chip, enabling secure data exchange. Smart card technology provides high levels of security and privacy protection, making it ideal for handling sensitive information such as identity and personal health information.

One of the frequently asked questions addressed by the Smart Card Alliance is how a smart card-based healthcare ID can help patients. The answer, in part, is that this technology allows medical providers to authenticate patients’ identities. “Accurate identification of each person that receives healthcare” is “the cornerstone of quality medical care and good health systems management.” This benefits patients in several ways, including:

Decreases medical errors. Optimal medical care requires that a healthcare provider have access to all relevant medical history and know what medications have been prescribed. A validated patient identity can be linked to a healthcare organization’s medical records. Using a smart card also allows the storage of patient record numbers

Reduces medical identity theft and fraud. Medical identity theft and fraud is a growing concern to healthcare consumers and providers. Using smart card technology enables the addition of security elements such as a picture, personal identification number (PIN) or biometric (e.g., a fingerprint) so that a lost or stolen healthcare ID card cannot be used or accessed by anyone else. The data kept on the card can also be encrypted so that no one can access your data without your permission.”

You can find more information on smart health cards and the benefits to using them on, but in short, smart card-based technology can help you, as a patient, get better quality healthcare, delivered faster and more cost-effectively. And that’s good for everybody.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto. Disclosures

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