As is usually the case with technology, the focus is on the future. And Siemens Medical Solutions (SMS; Malvern, Pennsylvania) recently reported a roll-out of technology that uses a future-oriented focus on tracking patients and potentially linking up with a universal electronic medical record (EMR) system.
In an effort to reduce preventable medical errors and block insurance fraud, Siemens recently reported the general availability of the CardOS Health 2.0 patient health card solution, a portable, secure storage and communication device — all combined in a card — that provides patient identification, electronic retrieval, storage and display of critical medical and demographic data, and communication functions for healthcare information.
Aaron Zitzer, senior product manager for SMS, told Medical Device Daily that the Siemens patient health card “meets the FDA’s requirements for Class I medical devices that include design, development and manufacturing controls. The solution does not require additional FDA approval from providers. Organizations such as providers and payors can deploy the solution and begin to issue patient health cards.”
About the size of a credit card, and using smart card technology, the CardOS Health 2.0 system consists of chip-embedded, photo identification cards that allow patients to be quickly and accurately identified and authenticated during registration and providing instant access to key EMR information, including insurance coverage and demographic information. The patient carries the card, and has control over access. It is password-protected, so only the patient can provide the correct code to allow access. The only exception is in the emergency department (ED). In the ED there is an over-ride in case the patient comes in unconscious. In this case, the ED caregiver inserts the patient’s card into the reader and then inserts his or her own employee card, the match is recorded so there is a record of who accessed the card’s info and when.
The cards are designed to improve on the current methods of patient identification, such as the patient identification bracelet.
Zitzer told MDD “while patient health cards are not intended to replace ID bracelets, both provide similar benefits. For example, the smart cards store information about medications and allergies.”
But patient health cards provide an important adjunct to ID bracelets through more secure patient identification and the reduction of identity fraud. Importantly, the cards store larger amounts of information than ID bracelets, “including demographic, medical and insurance data as well as images such as EKGs,” Zitzer said.
Updating of the card occurs at discharge/the end of the patient’s stay at the hospital. This allows the card to reflect the latest information, tests, results, etc. The patient carries and really manages the card; but a team member at the hospital would pass the card through the reader to update it as the patient is discharged from the hospital.
“Incomplete medical information is a leading cause of the nearly 100,000 deaths that occur each year due to medical errors in the U.S., and it’s estimated that tens of billions of dollars are lost to fraud, including identity theft,” said Joe Camaratta, VP of global solutions for SMS.
“The Siemens patient health card will help streamline workflow for administrators and provide a convenient, secure means to access critical and timely patient data.”
The solution combines smart card technology with a set of applications that can integrate with hospital information systems. Siemens’ solution supports the healthcare industry’s initiatives to adopt a universal electronic health record and complements RHIO/NHIN efforts.
SMS said that the cards have been pilot tested at Mount Sinai Medical Center and Elmhurst Hospital (both New York), which plan to deploy about 1.2 million of them.
The cards are currently available only through hospitals.
“At this time, Siemens is primarily focused on providing this solution to hospitals, although potential benefits for payors and RHIOs [regional health information organizations] exist,” Zitzer told MDD. “Organizations may decide how to distribute the cards to their patients/customers. The potential cost savings resulting from this distribution would enable organizations to issue the cards to patients at no cost.”
“With Siemens, we are working with one of the world’s technology leaders to help improve patient care and provide hospitals with more readily accessible information in a secure and portable format,” said Kenneth Davis, MD, president/CEO of Mount Sinai. “Whether it is an emergency or routine visit, complete and updated patient data are vital to help provide appropriate treatment in the most timely fashion. The general availability of the Siemens patient health card is a tremendous step in the pursuit of more accurate, personal and timely healthcare.”
SMS, a subsidiary of Siemens, bills itself as bringing together innovative medical technologies, healthcare information systems, management consulting, and support services, to help customers achieve tangible, sustainable, clinical and financial outcomes.