"The smart card is the tool we're using to centralize access to applications," he adds. "The faster physicians can access patient data, the better care they can provide. Physicians do find smart cards are helping them."
Boone is working on a return on investment analysis and concedes that "those numbers are very hard to come by." He is looking at a variety of possible efficiencies, such as whether easier access to information systems is enabling more efficient inputting of data, which in turn is speeding the billing process.
Denver Health's experience is indicative of a growing interest by provider organizations in using smart cards for clinical data access control, says John Osberg, president of Informed Partners LLC, a Marietta, Ga.-based consulting firm.
This could bring new opportunities for smart cards, which have not been widely accepted in the U.S. health care market.
"Increasingly, major clinical information technology vendors are adding smart card solutions to their product offerings," Osberg adds. "In requests for proposals from providers, I've seen more smart card capabilities being required."