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French health card : A contribution to the national Sustainability Policy

​​​​​​​​Version Française 

Carte VitaleFrance has always been a pioneer of smart card technology, first deploying its use in the healthcare industry in the early ‘90s. Simplifying the reimbursement system was essential in this country where over 1B healthcare claims are generated every year.

Symbol of the French universal health care scheme 

​The SESAM-Vitale scheme introduced a smart health card​ named"Carte Vitale", part of a wider ​electronic health care solution​​, containing data to simplify administration, slash costs and provide a faster, more efficient and secure way of submitting claims.  

The second generation, Carte Vitale 2, has been deployed over four years starting in March 2007 with family cards issued to every person over 16 years of age eligible for French social security coverage.

Nationwide, Vitale 2 cards have gradually replaced the Vitale 1 cards distributed in 1998/1999. Vitale 2 includes enhanced security features such as a new operating system, cryptographic capabilities and larger memory. Because protecting privacy is of the utmost importance, specific attention was also paid to the personalization processes in order to ensure a high level of security for each individual's data.

2017 facts and figures

  • 354,387 health professionals are using the system
  • 99,1%​ of all pharmacists are using the system
  • Patients are now reimbursed within 5 days
  • ​1.245 billion electronic claim forms were processed in 2017; over 90% of all claim forms 
  • 98 million card software updates
  • Administrative productivity and process costs divided by 6 for the e-claims.​

​Sesam-Vitale: Benefits 

The SESAM-Vitale program, and the green smart card that embodies the success of the French universal health care​​ in the eyes of the French people: 

  • have simplified live
  • have been an accelerator in the computerization of health professionals’ workplaces
  • is contributing to the modernization of relationships between patients and the health care system. 

The contribution to sustainable development is obvious, even if its precise measurement is difficult, even impossible, as the changes are complex. 

Today, with the administrative sector largely paperless, it remains for it to move forward with new services such as DP (Pharmaceutical Dossier) and the Personal Health File (Dossier Médical Personalisé, DMP) towards even more promising horizons for public health and the drive to sustainable development. In actual fact, this is not just about facilitating relationships with patients, but quite plainly continuing to improve the health and longevity of the French people.

General agreement on success

There is general agreement on one thing: the Vitale smart card is the very symbol of these positive changes. It is real, put forward as ‘proof’ that the system has changed. It is the sign of modernity. The development of ‘reception’ services in conjunction with the implementation of universal medical coverage known as CMU in France, has been brought about very rapidly.​

A contribution to French sustainability policy 

The SESAM-Vitale project is one of the three emblematic French programs most often cited to illustrate the concept of paperless procedures. As was recognized by the report France Numérique 2012 (the French development plan for the digital economy), ‘France has already embarked on the path of e-government and has had success with the income tax return, paperless medical expense claim forms and the development of ‘télé-TVA’, where companies can record and pay VAT over the Internet’. ​