Digital Health Passports Seen Rising As Walmart Joins Growing List Of Providers

Digital Health Passports Seen Rising As Walmart Joins Growing List Of Providers

June 17, 2021 at 08:25PM

Convenience is the ultimate selling point of Walmart’s digital health wallet — which allows users to access personal health information, including COVID-19 vaccination records — especially in a market that’s been slow to take the plunge into the digital age until it was necessary during the pandemic.

Walmart’s offering takes an additional step by not only giving patients easy access to their health records but also putting the power in the customer’s hands about whether they want to share their results.

But Walmart is hardly alone in the digital health passport game. It just happens to be the biggest and perhaps most powerful company that’s offering one — so far. Certainly, it won’t be the last as more users push for the convenience and empowerment that comes with having information at their fingertips.

Digital Health Wallets On The Rise

Walmart joins an increasingly crowded field of digital wallet options. And they’re not just becoming more prevalent in the U.S., as the European Union this week put the finishing touches on its plans for a COVID-19 certificate to ease travel across the region.

Under the EU pass program signed into law this week, restriction-free travel would be possible for people who have been fully vaccinated and for those who can show a negative COVID-19 test or immunity after recovering from the disease.

The system will be launched in July, but 13 member states, including Greece, Germany and Poland, have already started issuing the documents, which are free of charge and available in a digital and paper-based format.

IBM’s Digital Health Pass app uses blockchain technology that allows individuals to share their health status through an encrypted digital wallet.

This pass has integrated with Salesforce to help businesses and schools verify test results and vaccine status.

New York partnered with IBM and used this technology to create the Excelsior Pass, a mobile app that was tested at a Brooklyn Nets game at the Barclays Center in early February, where users showed their recent negative COVID-19 test as part of admission.

The app is now available for both iOS and Android users — and businesses that are interested in using the technology can download the companion scanner app (also available for iOS and Android) to begin participating.

More Digital Wallet Options

The U.K.-based V-Health app includes a built-in contact tracing tool and a way to make an appointment with testing centers nearby, which can then be added to the passport. The app is available for Apple and Android devices.

V-Health Passport’s technology is already being included in a platform called HELIIX Health Pass, which has been introduced in Las Vegas as a way to reopen the city. It’s also available as a standalone app in the Apple app store and Google Play.

The app says it has over 300 “V-Health passport providers” and has issued over 7 million “v codes.”

It seems the European government has tried to streamline the digital health passport process while the market is becoming increasingly crowded and difficult to navigate across the U.S., with different states using different rules and standards when it comes to what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Some states have gone so far as to ban vaccine passports completely, preferring to keep the power in the hands of the government rather than the individual or even the business owner.

More About Walmart’s Digital Health Passport

Walmart’s program lets people store their vaccine records in their Walmart or Sam’s Club online pharmacy account, and then print it, share it or save it to a device. It is open to anyone over 18 who was vaccinated for COVID-19 at a Walmart/Sam’s Club pharmacy or a Walmart-sponsored event.

“We are committed to giving people convenient, secure access to their health data, starting with COVID-19 vaccine immunization records,” said Dr. Cheryl Pegus, executive VP of Walmart Health and Wellness, in the company announcement.

“Our tool gives individuals a safe method to privately keep track of this information on their smartphone or computer, while also encouraging them to take ownership of their health data by determining exactly where, when, or if they share their documentation,” she said.