NEW YORK -- Computer technology has come to the aid of health care administration.
A new microcomputer with the look, size and function of a credit card can help both doctors and insurance companies rid themselves of paper gridlock, say makers of a product known as Onecard.
The card is designed to store medical and health care claims information, and to extend patients a credit line for their treatment. Ultimately, cards will be distributed by insurance companies that agree to participate in the system.
As part of the start-up plan, makers of Onecard plan to supply every hospital in New York with computers capable of reading the Onecard data.
"Individuals have to apply for the Onecard as you would for any other credit card," said Elie Rabie, president of Onecard.
The card comes with a personal identification number, or PIN, and is available on a credit-only basis. In cases of emergency medical treatment, however, the PIN does not have to be used.
In non-emergency use, a patient can pay a physician, dentist or pharmacist with the card. When making payment, the card is inserted into a computer scanner, provided by Onecard, which would print out a medical profile that includes personal data and health insurance information.
Insurance information includes carrier, policy number and co-payment data. Available credit and credit line information for each policyholder is included in the medical credit portion of data.
At a demonstration in upper Manhattan last week, David Levitt, chairman of Onecard Health Systems Corp., said the card is meant to replace the Med-alert bracelets worn by people with critical illnesses such as diabetes and epilepsy.
Mr. Levitt explained that when emergency cases are treated, sick individuals may not remember the date or the origin of their last visit to the doctor. The Onecard would provide doctors with medical and insurance information that would speed up jTC monetary and medical evaluation and treatment.
Marketing of Onecard is aimed at those who have acceptable credit lines, although Mr. Rabie maintains that the Onecard would help the poor and homeless to receive efficient medical care.
"The Onecard would have information that they would forget," he said.
Onecard will be available in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut areas for limited use.