Bahrain - Every citizen and resident in Bahrain will receive a chip-enabled card containing their medical data, announced the Supreme Council of Health (SCH).

The golden ‘Sehati’ card, which will be rolled out nationwide gradually, aims to enable public healthcare records to be seamlessly transferred to private hospitals and clinics.

According to the SCH, the card is currently being implemented in three health centres in Muharraq Governorate.

It will be implemented in three more health centres in Muharraq, before moving on to other governorates.

“The card protects patient privacy and guarantees access to all primary healthcare services,” said a SCH statement.

It is intended to ease the transfer of patient records between public and private sectors where the information will be encrypted and can only be read by physicians.

The card will contain a patient’s medical history, test results, diagnoses and prescription details.

“It is part of the National Health Insurance Programme’s ‘Choose your Doctor’ scheme, which aims to give patients the freedom to choose their healthcare provider,” added the statement.

“A step in the Sehati card roll-out process is for patients to choose primary care physicians, which is now an option in Muharraq.”

Top medics have said that the National Health Insurance Programme, also known as Sehati, will enhance competitiveness and boost the private healthcare sector as it gradually rolls out in phases.

It could even result in patient exodus to private facilities, they said, calling on potential businesses to invest in the healthcare segment.

Bahrain offers free healthcare to all citizens while a small fee is charged for residents in government facilities.

With the launch of Sehati, citizens and residents will get health coverage with two choices – a standard insurance with government supplying primary and secondary healthcare with free services, and a premium option of receiving treatment in the private sector with around 40 per cent paid by the government.

Former Health Minister Faeqa Saleh stated in March that services under the mandatory coverage for citizens include, but not limited to, primary healthcare, laboratory and radiology, operations, maternity, dental, mental health, physiotherapy, nursing, medication in addition to long-term stay and rehabilitation.

Medical plastic surgery, IVF and obesity treatments according to specified requirements as well as ambulance services will be included.

However, non-medical surgeries and dental care, private nursing and alternative medicine have been excluded.

Mandatory coverage for expatriates includes primary and secondary healthcare services as well as treatments in case of emergencies or accidents.

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