Patient Smart Cards: The Key To Protecting Patient Data?

Akanksha Jayanthi | Becker's Hospital Review | January 7, 2015

A new research paper from WEDI, the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange formed by HHS in 1991 that serves as an advisor to the agency, examines the feasibility and usability of "secure identity tokens" as a means to protect and secure patient data.  As defined in the paper, secure identity tokens can be smart cards or key fobs that have an internally secure microprocessor or computer application that identifies a person. The identity token can communicate and authenticate a biometric, encrypt and decrypt and sign a digital signature.

Here are five of the benefits smart cards may offer providers, health data exchanges and patients.

1. Positive patient identification. Current forms of patient matching — such as matching names, birth dates and addresses — carry a 10-15 percent error rate while a smart card potentially moves the error rate closer to zero, the report suggests.

2. Reduction in identity theft. By ensuring patients are who they say they are and encrypting that information, smart cards present the possibility of reducing the number of stolen identities and compromised health records...