Several obstacles arise whenever the issue of digitizing patients’ healthcare data is mentioned, including the question of control and protection of private and confidential data, its potential exploitation by companies and its malicious use by third parties.

Yet there are clear arguments in favor of digitization. Firstly for public authorities and governments, for whom digitization means less paper, less processing time and less fraud.

If it is done right, digitizing significantly increases the safety of data,” says Philippe Hercelin, Head of Systems & Solutions with OT’s Citizen Access & Identity business.

Secondly, for medical professionals, for whom digitization of the patient relationship improves the healthcare journey and reduces daily administration, thereby freeing up time to provide treatment. Finally, patients would benefit from cheaper administration of healthcare, greater respect for data confidentiality and improved medical assistance.

WHAT EXACTLY DOES DIGITIZATION MEAN?

Mobility is one of the main challenges of digital healthcare. Offering healthcare management means could therefore make patients’ lives easier and more stress-free. Whether on purely medical grounds or for administrative or payment reasons, this “mobile medical record” would create a link between the patient, the primary care physician, specialists and hospitals, health insurance providers, social security agencies and anyone else who may be involved (home nurse, physiotherapist, etc.). For this to become a reality, their mobile devices will need a dedicated security component. 

“The embedded Secure Element offered by OT provides vital functionality in the healthcare field. In addition to its primary function of storing data securely, it makes the phone’s data accessible easily at any time, even when it is switched off or low on battery. This is vital in all healthcare applications, since physicians need access to all of a patient’s data in an emergency, such as blood group, allergies, etc.”

This mobility will also benefit isolated patients suffering from chronic illnesses, enabling them to take advantage of local services without being hospitalized.

Industrial companies in the sector, including OT, are working on new mobile services. One of the objectives of this research is to allow patients to authorize the physician, during a medical consultation, to access their shared medical records via a mobile device. The physician could then log in to ensure the traceability of treatment, check treatment history and issue electronic prescriptions, for example.

However, mobile access to medical records raises the question of authentication and the signing of documents, to give them the same force and the same legitimacy as those bearing a physician’s stamp or signature.

“A digitized document must be enforceable. A ‘qualified’ signature is an essential and vital way of giving it the same importance as a physical signature. To do this, we can use physical elements of strong authentication (smart cards, badges, USB tokens, etc.) providing an adequate level of authentication.”

OT’s software and physical infrastructure offer an optimum level of security and provide healthcare professionals with a turnkey solution – smart cards incorporating personal information and cryptographic data for authentication and electronic signature, as well as an issuing platform and personalization software.

“A digitized document must be enforceable“ 

But in the highly sensitive healthcare sector, technologies may allow for advanced digitization of data from a security and software perspective, but their adoption will largely depend on their acceptance by the individuals and organizations concerned, including patients, professionals and institutions.