NY-area hospitals testing smart cards

Over next 18 to 24 months, a group of New York area hospitals will be pilot-testing smart cards that can carry the equivalent of 30 pages of medical records. The hospitals, which include Mount Sinai Medical Center, Jersey City Medical Center, Queens Hospital Center, Cabrini Medical Center and several others, plan to hand out 100,000 of the cards, that were developed by Siemens Medical Solutions. Siemens is actually subsidizing the initial round of cards, not to mention the hardware and software needed to manage them. Over time, however, Mount Sinai alone could need 350,000 cards--which list for roughly $8 each--to reach all of its patients. In other words, things could get expensive quickly for participating hospitals once the pilot is over.

The 64 KB cards can store lists of current medications and med allergies, test results, chronic conditions, previous physician, hospital or clinic visits, summary medical history and more. Under most circumstances, the card can only be read if a patient enters a PIN, though if a patient is unconscious hospital emergency departments will have a special reader available which can override the pin. The hospitals hope to use the cards to reduce medical errors, improve communication between patients and doctors and reduce claim denials through accurate documentation.

To find out more about the smart card pilot:
- read this article in The Philadelphia Inquirer

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