Schlumberger Electronic Transactions and its Solaic subsidiary said they have been selected to produce millions of smart cards for the French national health care system.

Cards are to be available by the end of this year to allow the program, Sesam Vitale, to begin early in 1998, said Schlumberger, one of the top France-based smart card manufacturers.

In the first phase, 15 million cards will be issued to families. The cards will securely store individual and administrative details to streamline payments and eliminate paper in dealings with health care providers.

By 1999 the entire population is scheduled to be in the program, and cards will have the capacity to store complete medical records.

A separate health professional smart card, equipped with digital signature capability for security, has already been issued to doctors, pharmacists, and others. Both the professional and patient cards must be inserted in a terminal to gain access to patient information.

The health care program "perfectly illustrates the growing role of smart cards in everyday life," said Jacques Cosnefroy, general manager of Schlumberger Electronic Transactions' card division. "In the coming decade, smart card technology will become an everyday tool for banking, telecommunications, transport, identification, and confidential data storage applications."

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