Heart inside a micro chip representing smart health cards
#Identity Technology

The road to mobile health cards

Global Trends
6 Mins.

Smart healthcare is a burgeoning field that uses a new generation of technology to transform the traditional medical system, making it more efficient, convenient, and personalized. From electronic patient records to mobile insurance applications, new technology and increased connectivity will simplify processes for patients and healthcare professionals alike. Smart cards enable the secure usage of these mobile services provided by various players.

IoT, big data, cloud computing, wearables, and AI are just some of the technologies that will revolutionize the healthcare industry in the coming years. They will facilitate dynamic access to information and increased connectivity between people, materials, and healthcare institutions, as well as intelligent medical management. By lowering costs and upgrading services, such technology could increase global accessibility to healthcare – a crucial goal given half of the world’s population still doesn’t receive essential health services.1 According to the World Health Organization, 70% of countries in the EU already had a national eHealth policy or strategy in 2015.2 Smart health cards will  act as a central element in a modern healthcare system, as they simplify and regulate access and securely link all services. Generally, the use of new technology will enable the sector to experience a necessary boom in the coming years.

eHealth in Germany

Electronic healthcare cards have been in use in Germany since 2010. These have helped to improve the quality of medical care and make patients more informed and autonomous over their diagnoses and therapies. In 2020, the German healthcare system became more connected to the telematics infrastructure (TI) to enhance connectivity between patients and different players in the healthcare industry.3 From 2021 onward, all health insurance companies in Germany will issue their electronic health cards exclusively with NFC technology to facilitate more convenient contactless data exchange and enable the use of mobile or digital services. One such example is the electronic patient record (ePA) being rolled out this year. This will help the insured to gain overviews and control of this health data exchange. Digital patient files will help people avoid unnecessary multiple examinations, which will save time and costs.

Soon, the ePA will also allow X-ray scans, maternity cards, or dental booklets to be centrally and digitally located. Eventually, users will even be able to access electronic prescriptions. Patients are able to authenticate themselves and access healthcare documents easily using a secure smartphone application. This would facilitate truly predictive and personalized medicine. To pave the way to this mobile offering, G+D – which already offers smart health cards and health card application management systems based on Germany’s TI –  is working on bridging the gap between the physical and digital worlds. G+D’s mobile solutions will enable secure access to personal health services, while the card will continue to play an important role as the interface between various digital services. Healthcare records and documents would always be available at your fingertips. 

Securing advances in healthcare

Man holding orange medical tablet container and mobile phone representing mobile health
Mobile health facilitates more convenience in healthcare processes for patients and providers

Safeguards like high data-protection standards must be built in to new healthcare systems to guarantee a balance between security and convenience. Intertrust’s 2020 Security Report on Global mHealth App Threats found that 71% of healthcare and medical apps have at least one serious vulnerability that could lead to a breach of medical data. To promote widespread acceptance of digital tools, the healthcare industry must work hard to increase trust and security and ensure that users are able to define and control their own access rights. The FIDO alliance is an important player in this space as it is dedicated to strengthening international authentication standards, which help to protect electronic healthcare documents.4 Thanks to FIDO, secure passwordless authentication can be used in these applications to enhance trust. Biometric technology offers a great solution for secure authentication – face recognition and touch ID fingerprint, for example, have been widely popularized in recent years. 

G+D is working on highly secure healthcare solutions that bring more convenience to the user. For example, by using the existing telematics infrastructure, health cards can already be used to access insurance providers’ apps. In addition, G+D’s Convego® tap solution will enable patients to carry out secure two-factor authentication to access their health app – just by tapping the health card to the smartphone.

The solution’s end-to-end security design and strong customer authentication remove the need for inconvienient TAN/one-time password (OTP) generators or apps and make it compliant with both PSD2 and FIDO standards. Several layers of security make manipulation or replay of authentication data impossible, while keeping processes streamlined. The konnektor solution from secunet, a cybersecurity specialist whose majority owner is G+D,  also provides the infrastructure to guarantee secure communication between patients, medical professionals, and their devices.

“As a complement to physical offerings, the use of digital technology in the healthcare industry adds significant value for patients.“
Dr. Ferdinand Buriánek
Head of Domains Public Sector, Transit, and Enterprise at G+D

Integrated and accepted mobile health

Mobile health will continue to evolve in the next few years, with new technology and innovations set to greatly benefit the healthcare system. A recent study on the global mHealth landscape by Big Innovation Centre and Deep Knowledge Analytics found that mobile healthcare can serve as a major tool for nations to improve access to healthcare. Increasing mobile penetration and the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated the growth and diversification of mHealth. However, according to Birgitte Andersen, CEO of Big Innovation Centre, “the raw resources that are in place to make mHealth a game changer for global health are enormous, but much more remains to be done in terms of effectively coordinating and directing these raw resources.”5

A study by Deloitte on effective mHealth found that in order to benefit all players, mHealth must become more integrated – apps and devices must be linked with the formal healthcare system.6 When implemented effectively, the eHealth card is able to connect various elements and services within the healthcare ecosystem and provide secure access to patient information. Essentially, it acts as a bridge between the physical and digital worlds. Similarly, greater collaboration between industry players would improve the quality, safety, and interoperability of smart healthcare, and would also lower integration and implementation costs.

To encourage widespread acceptance of digital health solutions, the individual user experience is key. The general public shows a high willingness to share health data for valuable purposes; however, users’ ability to deactivate or opt out of such schemes is crucial.7 A renewed focus on security will enhance adoption rates to unleash numerous benefits for governments, users, and healthcare and insurance providers.

“As a complement to physical offerings, the use of digital technology in the healthcare industry adds significant value for patients. G+D’s expertise and competence allows us to provide highly secure, future-oriented, and convenient solutions to protect patient data and information,” says Dr. Ferdinand Buriánek, Head of Domains Public Sector, Transit, and Enterprise at G+D.

  1. “Half the world lacks acess to essential health services,” WHO, 2017

  2. “eHealth in the WHO European region,” WHO, 2016

  3. “Die elektronische Gesundheitskarte,” Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, 2020

  4. “Healthcare and Insurance,” FIDO

  5. “Global mHealth Industry Landscape Overview,” Deep Knowledge Analytics, 2020

  6. “The four dimensions of effective mHealth,” Deloitte, 2014

  7. “ePA-Einführung,” Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2021

Published: 26/03/2021

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