Smartcards and healthcare for all

July 2010 News

Dozens of countries in both the developing and the developed worlds have implemented smartcard-based health programs, with some of the most successful and sustained programs being in France and Germany. In these two countries, millions of citizens, thousands of insurance companies and healthcare providers – from large multispecialty hospitals to the GP next-door – share a common country-wide infrastructure for beneficiary and service provider identification, digital signature as well as a standardised health record. France is currently implementing the second generation of such a system, the first one having been introduced almost two decades ago.

However, such programs often face a host of challenges that simultaneously encompass technological, administrative, policy and even ethical issues, often calling for a paradigm shift, both within the minds of decision-makers, as well as users across various socio-economic denominations.

South Africa currently has the twin challenge of the government’s plan to introduce a National Health Insurance System, and at the same time continue to support a large population of chronically ill patients, many of them solely dependent on the public health infrastructure. South Africa also faces the paradox where some people enjoy world-class healthcare and insurance, while many others do not even have access to basic services.

What are the issues facing the policy makers, administrators, doctors and workers; and what are the expectations of a population strongly hoping that political will and business interests will together find win-win solutions, among the many contradictions that afflict the sector.

In all this, can smartcards find a place and provide solutions, not only to the management, security and accountability of the system, but also cut costs in an industry where runaway expenses can often cripple the entire nations’ economy.

The Cardex event, due to take place at Sandton Convention Centre on 28 September 2010, will focus on these issues, with a stellar agenda and keynote presenters lined up.

For more information contact Carol Willis, +27 (0)11 462 1690,

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