Information overload? New personal health card doubles as a credit card

A new hybrid personal health record/credit card released this week by Broomfield, Colo.-based LifeNexus might just be nirvana for patients who have longed for an easier way to consolidate and carry all of their health information.

The HIPAA-compliant card will allow patients to store medical records, insurance information, immunizations, allergies, prescriptions and emergency contacts, among other data, on a wallet-sized card via an embedded iChip that is encrypted and password protected. Patients also will have access to their Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts. The health information will be accessible only when the card is swiped through a special reader, according to the Boulder County Business Report; 10,000 such readers will be distributed to hospitals nationwide beginning Monday, the publication reports.

What's more, cardholders will be able to pay for everyday purchases via prepaid, credit or debit methods. The company already has a history of collaboration with MasterCard, Visa, VeriFone and Emdeon, according to an announcement.

"It's a very novel approach as far as a consumer being able to control medical data on an encrypted and secure card," LifeNexus head of global business development David King-Hurley told the Business Report.

The idea of using "smart cards" is nothing new. In 2007, several New York-area hospitals conducted a pilot using similar cards, without the credit/debit capabilities. And last year, Germany halted its smart card program--in which 80 million people on German health plans were to be using such devices by 2006--to conduct an in-depth security review after the program suffered from years of delays and cost overruns.

To learn more:
- read this LifeNexus announcement
- here's the Boulder County Business Report article