The German state of Nordrhein-Westfalen is the first in the country to press ahead with the controversial provision of electronic health cards.
The north Rhine region will distribute the e-health cards following an agreement between the government, health insurers and medical professionals.
The card scheme was approved during a meeting at the state’s health ministry. However, the ICT news service Heise Online says the roll-out will not be possible before 2009, as the distribution of card-reading terminals will not begin until the last quarter of 2008 at the earliest.
A spokesman for the state government said the move will strengthen the “pioneering role of Nordrhein-Westfalen in introducing telematics applications into the health services”.
Federations representing health insurance funds said they will put in place the organisational structure for launching the project as soon as the technical preconditions have been fulfilled.
The news service said the arrival of the terminals will have to be followed by quality tests before the cards can be distributed. Health professionals are in two minds over the move, with one regional dentists’ federation having recently joined the “Stop the eCard” campaign.
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