Modernizing the German Health Service With Secure E-health Solutions

In 2009 it became compulsory for German citizens to have health insurance. In October 2011, the new eGK (elektronische Gesundheitskarte) ehealth cards were introduced, with about 7 million cards issued in the first two months of the rollout.

The eGK project is one of the largest European IT healthcare initiatives, seeking to revolutionize e-health and positioning Europe as the hub for telemedicine. As a major supplier to the project, Morpho is the only vendor to have the entire health card production process in Germany, meaning the data of 76 million insured citizens never leaves the country.

The Federal Ministry of Health mandated the Gematik (Society for Telematics Applications) to carry out the introduction of the electronic health insurance card, under its supervision.

The Gematik stipulated the eGK cards should be issued in increments from October 1, 2011, with all insured Germans to have received them by the end of 2013. This required the connection of 76 million insured citizens, 200,000 health professionals, 20,000 pharmacists, 2,000 hospitals and around 145 health insurers in Germany via the telematic infrastructure and Morpho-supplied eGK smartcard.

Initially, the eGK card has the same data as the old health cards, however the data range will be expanded to include detailed patient histories in the next phase of the project. To protect privacy, cardholders can choose which information is made available and the smartcards keep this secure via a PIN code. The eGK cards also include a personal photograph to prevent fraud.

A two-stage security process means the doctor must also enter their health professional ID card to obtain final access to patient data. Only in an emergency can a doctor gain direct access to patient data, solely with the use of their medical professional ID card.

Morpho provides an efficient, flexible in-country card production process – from operating system development, module assembly and card production to mailing - as well as secure ehealth card technology. This means German citizens can feel reassured about the security of their data, and that the Gematik can be assured of the very best service.

Production of the eGK card was at Morpho's German plant in Flintbek, near Kiel. The Flintbek plant ramped-up to full capacity when the Gematik specified that 10% of eGK cards be issued by the end of 2011. By the end of 2012, Morpho had shipped a further 21 million cards, and all insured citizens were provided with the new ehealth card by the end of 2013.