New HIPAA Privacy and Security Enforcement Laws Favor Smart Card Use in Healthcare.

sca_logoSmart cards have been touted for years as a secure and efficient way to convey identification information, health plan benefits information, electronic health records, and more. However, adoption has been slow as providers dragged their feet in buying the necessary readers while the industry has worked to develop universal standards.

Now the Smart Card Alliance, the not-for-profit, multi-industry group that works to promote smart card technology, says that the federal government’s new vision of HIPAA privacy enforcement and compliance has given smart heath card technology a new level of importance.

The Smart Card Alliance notes that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) gave HIPAA privacy and security regulations a big boost and also extended HIPAA regulations to more businesses. As a result of this action, attendees at the 8th Annual Smart Cards in Government Conference were told that identity and authentication solutions based on smart card technology will become a much more attractive proposition for healthcare companies charged with protecting the security of personal health records.

The Smart Card Alliance says that smart cards solve a lot security concerns. They provide a proven way to uniquely and securely authenticate an individual across the entire national healthcare system, including over the Internet. They protect security and privacy by giving individuals control over access to their personal records. And for enterprises, smart cards can be used by employees who need to access healthcare records, providing high levels of security and a non-repudiable record of who accesses information and when, to aid in compliance with healthcare information protection laws.

Smart health cards are also said to improve the security and privacy of patient information, provide the secure carrier for portable medical records, reduce healthcare fraud, support new processes for portable medical records, provide secure access to emergency medical information, enable compliance with government initiatives and mandates, and provide the platform to implement other applications as needed by the healthcare organization.

The Smart Card Alliance Healthcare Council brings together payers, providers, and technologists to promote the adoption of smart cards in U.S. healthcare organizations and within the national health IT infrastructure. It has prepared briefs and white papers that explain how smart card technology can enhance the privacy and security of personal health records, and also provide a solid foundation of identity for healthcare information systems.

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