Health Passport on the move

Western Governors' Association Health Passport Project

The Western Governors' Association is firming up its plans to broaden a

multistate demonstration project that delivers health benefits and services

on smart cards.

The association is the lead agency in the Health Passport Project, a demonstration

program officially launched in 1999 in Bismarck, N.D.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; and

Reno, Nev.

Participants in the program — primarily low-income pregnant women, mothers

and children under age 5 — use a Health Passport smart card to receive Medicaid

benefits and food benefits at participating grocery stores. The card also

stores personal family data and health and medical information, such as

immunizations records.

With Phase I of the demonstration project nearing its end and an evaluation

due in August, WGA is ironing out the details for Phase II of the program,

said Ginger Paulsen, WGA's Health Passport Project site manager in Nevada,

speaking at the CardTech/SecurTech conference last week in Las Vegas.

The demonstration participants tapped for Phase II, which is expected to

take place in California, are WGA; California's Women, Infants and Children

(WIC) program, the Defense Commissary Agency and the U.S. General Services

Administration.

There are four main goals for the second phase of the project, Paulsen said:

* Demonstrate secure, scalable processes for requesting and disclosing medical

data.

* Explore network-based and card-based data sharing using multiple-application

smart cards.

* Test the interoperability of public-key infrastructure across federal,

state and private partners.

* Build public/private partnerships to share medical data and support agency

needs.

The problem today is that there is no standard process for electronically

exchanging medical data, Paulsen said. "It's a spider web. It's confusing,

there's a lot of duplication [and there's] no standard process."

A so-called aggregator will play a central role in Phase II of the project

and help solve this problem, said Barbara Selter, vice president of Maximus

Intelligent Technologies' federal smart card practice. The third-party aggregator

will enable a standard protocol to be used by the requester and provider

organizations and will establish standard privacy and security rules, she

said.

In Nevada, partners have issued about 10,000 cards and about 30 retailers

are delivering benefits electronically through the WIC program, Paulsen

said. Kiosks located in several locations enable cardholders to review the

information on the card, including scheduled doctor appointments.

Those who use the cards find that their visits to the doctor are simpler,

Paulsen said. "The visit is so much quicker; [the] paperwork is so much

less," she said, adding that data on the card is easily integrated into

a system because it is stored electronically.

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