Smart card expert Sagem Orga, in collaboration with German health insurer Techniker Krankenkasse, has become the first company to develop a next-generation electronic health card.

The new generation one card, which will be used in the eventual roll-out of health smart cards in Germany, will enable Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) to test and prove the online capability required of the cards and connected systems at an early stage.

Based on the experience and results from the laboratory and field tests with the existing electronic health card, German health IT body gematik created the new specifications for a generation one card for the planned nationwide roll-out.

"Even though the telematics infrastructure is not yet in place in the initial reference region at the time of the launch, we want to give the market a card from the outset that can be updated online and so is future-proof," said Frank Siener, head of corporate development at TK.

Before the cards can be issued, they have to be tested to ensure health insurers can securely and reliably update data on insured persons online on the electronic health card, such as a person’s address changes.

Gematik, which was founded in 2005 to oversee the introduction of a telematics infrastructure, required to implement electronic health cards across Germany. The new Sagem Orga card is the first to undergo full testing by gematik.

Christopher Goulet, head of sales for Central and Eastern Europe, Banking, Health and ID, at Sagem Orga, commented: "Early availability of our generation one cards underscores our claim to be the leader in electronic health cards and we believe it can give more security and a new boost to the project."