Smart Cards -- the Key to Trustworthy Health Information Systems
BMJ (British Medical Journal). 1997 Feb 22; 314(7080): 573-577.
Some 20 years after they were first developed, "smart cards" are set to play a crucial part in healthcare systems. Last year about a billion were supplied, mainly for use in the financial sector, but their special features make them of particular strategic importance for the health sector, where they offer a ready made solution to some key problems of security and confidentiality. This article outlines what smart cards are and why they are so important in managing health information. I discuss some of the unique features of smart cards that are of special importance in the development of secure and trustworthy health information systems. Smart cards would enable individuals' identities to be authenticated and communications to be secured and would provide the mechanisms for implementing strong security, differential access to data, and definitive audit trails. Patient cards can also with complete security carry personal details, data on current health problems and medications, emergency care data, and pointers to where medical records for the patient can be found. Provider cards can in addition carry authorisations and information on computer set up.
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