[LINK] Roxon revives smartcard plan
brd at iimetro.com.au
Tue Jun 16 09:47:11 EST 2009
This smartcard plan is nothing like the access card project, so I don't
know why they are using the term "revives".
I suppose it's because both have a chip. Watch for all the FUD about to
Roxon revives smartcard plan
June 16, 2009
A NEW Medicare smartcard is on the agenda, as policy makers grapple with
ways to give doctors and nurses secure access to patient information
held electronically in either a centralised database or local and
Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has indicated that a smartcard -- a
plastic card containing a tiny chip -- will soon replace the old
magstripe Medicare card, to support the shift to widespread availability
of e-health records.
The card will hold individual healthcare identifiers -- a unique number
that will be issued to all Australians -- so that each person's records
can be correctly identified and linked.
But the costs for what will inevitably be a large-scale project are yet
to be confirmed.
All healthcare providers will need new card readers, as well as access
to a secure internet messaging system linking doctors' rooms, public and
private hospitals, specialist and community clinics, pathology and
radiology labs and even the aged-care sector.
According to the National E-Health Strategy, the identifier program will
cost about $400million over 10 years, while the associated
authentication services and standards work will cost a further $360m.
The strategy, developed by Deloitte and adopted by the Australian Health
Ministers Conference last year, forecasts a total $2.6 billion spend on
new e-health services over the next 10 years, but says tangible benefits
to patients and cost-savings would be about $5.7bn in current dollars.
Human Services Minister Chris Bowen will have to navigate the sensitive
policy issues yet to be resolved without sparking the uproar that
defeated the plan by Coalition human services minister Joe Hockey for a
single health and welfare access card that many believed would become a
de-facto national identity card.
Mr Hockey had picked up the original Medicare smartcard project,
launched by then health minister Tony Abbott in 2004, and abandoned just
two years later.
Trialled in Tasmania, the $4.5m Medicare smartcard attracted little
interest, with only 1 per cent of eligible Tasmanians willing to
register for it.
The high costs of enrolling individuals, issuing cards and providing
technical support also proved to be a big factor in the demise of the
access card. According to KPMG, these requirements accounted for the
bulk of the expected $1.1bn spend.
Although Ms Roxon has said participation in e-health records schemes
would be voluntary, the suggestion the identifier would be placed on the
Medicare card rang alarm bells over consent issues and possible
Australian Privacy Foundation health spokeswoman Juanita Fernando has
already called on Ms Roxon to clarify whether the smartcard "is not
simply a redesigned Australia Card".
A spokeswoman for the National E-Health Transition Authority, which has
contracted with Medicare to develop the universal health identifiers
(UHIs), said "more detailed design information would be made available
for public discussion" later this year.
"Australia's health ministers requested public consultation when they
announced in March that there would be an allocated health
identification number," she said.
Meanwhile, the agreed National Smartcard Framework, released by the
Australian Government Information Management Office last December,
points to the likely direction of the present Medicare project.
"The limited memory capacity of even the most sophisticated smartcards
means they are not able to store a great deal of healthcare-related
information," the framework says.
"In any case, the dynamic and decentralised nature of longitudinal
personal health information means most shared e-health record
architectures today do not envisage using smartcards as more than
security keys to access data."
But there would be room for consumer eligibility for services and
entitlements, as well as emergency data such as medical condition
alerts, prescriptions and allergies.
It recommends smartcards with on-chip capabilities for the generation of
public key infrastructure keys and digital signatures for e-health and
Such systems are already being developed as part of the National
Authentication Service for Health, or NASH, which will have
responsibility for registering and certifying healthcare providers.
The work on NASH is being undertaken by NEHTA, which will also have
responsibility for operating the service.
brd at iimetro.com.au
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