Two Northern California firms – Newsura Insurance Services (Roseville, California) and Compudigital Industries (Rocklin, California) – have entered into a joint venture to bring two Sony technologies to the healthcare industry.

The two technologies are Sony's FeliCa contactless IC technology, which is an accepted standard for Near Field Communication (NFC), will combine a credit card-sized FeliCa data/information storage card and an inexpensive FeliCa card reader to enable the storage, portability and use of a patient's critical health information in healthcare settings; and Sony's digital signage technology, which enables the streaming of hosted, informational and video entertainment programming over the Internet.

"We believe ... FeliCa has a host of applications in the healthcare industry, from registration in doctors' offices, hospitals and hospital emergency departments, to triage and patient tracking in ERs, and patient tracking in hospitals at large," said Terry Borchers, founder/president of Newsura. "The technology also offers the potential to build a revolutionary payment system that adjudicates charges at the point-of-care in doctors' offices, eliminates the need for cumbersome explanations of benefits thus enabling doctors to get paid at the time care is delivered."

Newsura specializes in meeting the insurance needs of the healthcare industry, and lists hundreds of physician groups and thousands of physicians among its clients. The company is interested in FeliCa, Borchers said, "Because these applications can not only help improve the quality of care, but also increase patient safety and simultaneously reduce medical errors. The technology can also help healthcare providers comply with ever-increasing government- and payer-mandated quality standards. All of these a critical to maintaining reasonably-priced professional liability insurance."

He said that his company is similarly focused on Sony's digital signage technology because "the technology can be used to communicate important information about the practice, the hospital or the emergency room experience in advance of the care – in short, it can set the stage for a better patient experience."

Jeffrey Hilliard, president/CEO of Compudigital, the first company in North America to serve as a System Integrator and Application Developer (SIAD) for Sony FeliCa technology, echoed Borchers' enthusiasm.

"The FeliCa card can securely store up to 4K bytes of data and information, which can be down-loaded to any computer by waving the card across the card reader," he said. "Revised or new data and information can be uploaded - again by waving the card across the reader. The entire memory on the card can be read from or written to in 1/10 of a second.

The same card or FeliCa-enabled device, Hilliard said, can be used as a 3-in-1 payment card: "The card can store cash from which cash payments can be made using the reader, which can also be used for debit and credit card purchases." He added that the FeliCa technology can also take the shape of wrist bands, necklaces and key chains.