While a patchwork of biometric patient identification systems continues to emerge in the United States, French lawmakers have passed legislation that will make the technology a requirement in France.
As The Local reports, the legislation is part of a broader, €20 million financial aid package designed to help citizens bear the burdens of inflation. An amendment to the package mandated the development of a biometric health care that “contains physical characteristics of the insured, such as their fingerprints”.
The idea of the “carte vitale” may have taken some inspiration from the emerging biometric payment cards that have begun to see rollouts around the world. These cards generally feature an embedded fingerprint sensor that is used to scan the cardholder during a transaction, enabling authentication even for contactless transactions.
France has been something of a hotbed for this FinTech innovation, with Crédit Agricole France having launched biometric Mastercards last year.
Whatever the technological inspiration, France’s proposed carte vitale offers an interesting contrast to the emergence of biometric patient identification in America. The latter has seen various healthcare providers embrace such solutions in an effort to reduce administrative costs and improve patient care. They have done so of their own accord, whereas France’s legislation comes from the top-down, and is aimed primarily at eliminating fraud in the country’s socialized healthcare system.
The Local reports that the biometric health card amendment was put forward by right-wing senators who said its inclusion was a condition of their support for the larger bill. Their concern in doing so was to eradicate healthcare fraud; their proposal would link the health card to a cardholder’s bank account, with healthcare costs reimbursed automatically.
The aid package was approved by the French National Assembly today, and in theory the biometric health card program will begin this fall. In the meantime, many questions remain. At least 65 million health cards will need to be replaced and healthcare professionals will need to be equipped with the technology to accept the biometric cards. A vendor for the cards themselves will need to be selected.
It seems that all of this is going to need to be sorted out pretty quickly, and France will soon offer an example, for better or worse, of what a nationally-mandated biometric patient ID system will look like.
Source: The Local
Aug. 4, 2022 – by Alex Perala