Currently EU citizens have to apply for an off line used EHIC. When in need for unforeseen health care abroad, they have to show this card to their Health Care Provider (HCP) abroad. The HCP checks the expiry date, makes a copy and attaches this copy to his invoice, to be sent to his/her Competent Institution. However a minority of EU citizens does have an EHIC. All others have to contact their insurance organization or have to pay the HCP out of pocket.
Much easier would be for HCP's to check EU citizen's entitlement to health care abroad in real time, just by capturing citizen's number from his/her passport. The HCP receives digitally and in real time the Provisional Replacement Certificate (the formalized equivalent (Reg. 987/Decision S2) of the EHIC as confirmation of patient's entitlement from patient's Health Insurance Organization. In that way all EU citizens are able, without any additional effort (and stress) to demonstrate their entitlement. Moreover HCP's can use the (up to date) digital dataset for uploading their patient file, to possibly access patient's medical files and to invoice digitally to their Competent Institution. Last but not least, Health Insurance Companies are able to digitalize their cross border processes completely and service their insured in a state of the art way.
The digital EHIC has been developed as a prototype in eConfirmation, a sub project of eSENS project, funded by the EC. Unfortunately financial burdens for health insurance organizations appear to be an obstacle, to adopt the service. Possibly the EC could facilitate the health (insurance) sector to get this digital service realized?