Bureau of National Health Insurance in Taiwan introduces 22 million Sun-powered health cards

Santa Clara 05 September 2002Sun Microsystems has successfully deployed the Java Card technology and Sun network solutions by the Bureau of National Health Insurance of Taiwan (BNHI). The BNHI has started to roll out 22 million Java Card technology-powered Integrated Circuit (IC) health cards to Taiwan citizens in July, replacing its original paper-based system. This new smart card will bring substantive time and cost savings to the BNHI.


The IC health card rollout marks a major milestone in the technology advancement of health services in Taiwan. There are multiple stages in this project such as ongoing infrastructure upgrades, public education and acceptance of the new card system. "We will employ the latest technology to ensure a smooth transition and operation for both health professionals and card users", stated Louis Liu, General Manager of Department of Planning and Evaluation of BNHI. "To this end we are working closely with the public and health care providers to anticipate the future needs of card users and to respond quickly to different user scenarios", added Mr. Liu.

TECO Electric & Machinery Co. Ltd. (TECO), a smart card systems integrator in Taiwan, implemented the US$115 million IC health card project mainly to reduce medical costs and to encourage usage of the card by facilitating both card and reader production. "TECO highly values the benefit of partnership with a technology and network solutions provider like Sun Microsystems. The key to the success of this project relied on seamless systems integration skills in complex environments supported by a highly flexible and secure platform to meet the rigorous needs of multiple medical functions", stated Kung Pu Chang, Vice President and National Health Project Director for TECO.

Java Card technology is certified by the BNHI and meets their stringent security requirements and is thereby considered as an approved solution for secure digital identity. In order to meet its business critical need to support 5000 simultaneous users on a highly reliable and secure system, TECO also selected the Sun Enterprise 10000, 4500, 3500 and 450 servers, and the Solaris operating environment.

Java Card technology enables multiple applications to co-exist securely on a single smart card. The IC health card will deliver secure, value-added services to card users in any place, and at any time. Java Card is an open and proven technology currently deployed worldwide in industries such as financial services, government, and telecommunications; well-known for its security, interoperability, multiple application capability, and adherence to open standards.

"We are pleased that the Taiwan government has selected Sun's end-to-end network solutions and Java Card technology to meet their mission-critical and sophisticated needs in this large-scale health insurance card implementation project", stated Daniel Yu, Corporate Vice President of Global Sales Operations, Sun Microsystems Greater China. "Java Card technology allows card issuers to dynamically modify the services and applications on the card as the user's needs change, without incurring additional costs to replace the card. This will provide the BNHI with the flexibility to adapt to future needs in the years to come", added Mr. Yu.

Sun's network solutions provide optimal reliability, scalability, flexibility, and performance at a low total cost of ownership (TCO). Sun's Enterprise 10000 server is an important part of the corporate data-centre world, where high-end servers anchor mission-critical IT operations. "The Taiwan BNHI joins the ranks of many governments worldwide that have chosen to issue smart identification cards based on Sun's proven Java Card technology. With more than 200 million Java cards deployed worldwide, Java Card technology is the platform of choice for multi-application smart cards", stated Jonathan Schwartz, Executive Vice President, Software, Sun Microsystems Inc.

This project is considered to be one of the largest Java Card technology-powered smart card deployments worldwide. The rollout of all 22 million health cards is expected to finish by May 2003, just 25 months since the project commenced. The IC health card contains a microprocessor with 32 kilobytes of memory. Important data recorded on the card can only be accessed when the security key codes of both the doctor's and patient's cards are mutually authenticated to avoid privacy violation. The cards are produced by a joint venture factory owned by Teco and German smart card supplier Giesecke & Devrient, using chips from Hitachi and Infineon.

Since 1995, BNHI was officially established and it is chartered to bring better life quality relevant to health issues to all citizens of Taiwan by launching adequate programmes. In preparing for the demands for the real time information in 21st century, BNHI possesses a mission to devote to the betterment of existing health programmes as well as to equip Taiwan's medical industry with advanced gear in the face of technology transformation.

Leslie Versweyveld

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