The use of "Smartcards", i.e. intelligent electronic data carriers for medical purposes, has been considered in some Western countries.
The main purpose of Med-, Sana- or Healthcards, as they are called in European pilot projects, is to provide access to medical information about the patient - which could be life-saving in an emergency. Even in non-emergency situations, however, it is thought that patient cards could improve the information flow and even cut administrative costs by obviating the need for multiple diagnosis.
The project carried out in collaboration with the Austrian Federal Institute of Health (ÖBIG) described the chip card technology and possible alternatives (laser card, combination card) and collected information from international pilot projects: around 60% of the planned projects do not proceed beyond the planning stage. The success of plastic cards in the health sector depends on the health service itself. Factors impeding introduction include:
Hopes that Medicards will help cut costs must be scaled down: a savings potential exists, but mostly by simplifying the patient/social security charging system. In Austria a more efficient, computer-assisted charging system for doctors and social security organisations would appear to be more important.
Finally, a catalogue of measures was drawn up indicating the steps that would be required if a system of this type were to be introduced for the various areas of the health service in Austria (health administration, social security, doctors and patients/clients).
01/1991 - 12/1991