Health Ministry Seeks Patient ‘Smart Cards’

Rabbi Litzman (Flash90)
Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman. (Flash90)

Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman this week unveiled a plan to further extend digitizing medical records for Israelis. Under the plan, Israelis would be assigned a “smart card” that would include their entire medical history, including what drugs they take, records of hospital visits, doctors’ recommendations, etc.

Health Minister Rabbi Litzman presented the idea at a meeting of the Knesset Science and Technology Committee, chaired by United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Uri Maklev. MK Rabbi Maklev reviewed the idea, as well as the objections that have been raised about it in the past, and praised Rabbi Litzman for his “forward-thinking ideas on ensuring the public’s health.

“If a doctor can have easy access to patient data, it will be easier to treat that patient,” said MK Rabbi Maklev. “This would be of great assistance in cases of life and death, as well as for routine check-ups.” In addition, he said, the project would save money, by preventing unnecessary tests and procedures from being assigned, as the patient’s entire history of tests and procedures would be on the card as well.

Among the main reasons some experts oppose the idea of portable electronic health records is the possibility that hackers could get their hands on them. While the system could be made very difficult to hack into, many patients who do not “trust” computers might prefer to go without medical care until it is too late, according to those experts.

According to Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, director general of the Health Ministry, “we are developing the next generation of data-sharing with this program, and data security is our top priority.” He told the committee that several doctors in Israel’s health care system were already completely reliant on electronic data, and that the data had remained safe so far.