In the coming months, patients discharged from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York will be handed a wallet-sized medical card that contains much of the pertinent information that has been housed in a hefty medical chart at their doctor's office.
The "patient smart card" program is being developed by information technologists at Mount Sinai in collaboration with Siemens Communications and Elmhurst Hospital Center, which successfully tested a pilot program. The program will soon begin doling out 100,000 cards to patients at Mount Sinai and eight other area hospitals affiliated with the teaching hospital. Queens Hospital Center will also be part of the smart card program. Paul Contino, Mount Sinai's vice president of information technology, said a major goal is to reduce medical errors by storing a great deal of medical information, easily accessed and updated. Federal agencies are pushing to standardize medical records and make them available on the Internet, but that, Contino said, could take decades.
"The smart card is a very good step," said Dr. Howard Kerpen, an internist at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., who developed a personal digital assistant program for medical residents that also includes bedside access to patient records. "There are some people who don't want their medical information on the Internet for a variety of reasons. This would be a great option for them to carry around their medical information in their pockets."