The Carte Vitale is going digital

After being tested in select regions over the past two years, France’s heath card, the Carte Vitale, will soon be changing to an online format. Here’s what you need to know.  

Since 1998, the Carte Vitale has been a key part of the French healthcare system. The card allows citizens and residents to go to any doctor in France under the umbrella of the national health system.   

Now it is going digital. The Ministry of Health launched the plan in 2019 with the idea of creating a smartphone application for the card. Since 2021, a dozen departments in France, including the Alpes-Maritimes, have been testing out the new app, and with its success came word that the e-Carte Vitale will be gradually rolled out nationwide. Full coverage is expected by 31st December 2025.  

It is available to everyone via the apCV app, and will contain all user identification information, including tracking data, and will provide access to SESAM-Vitale invoicing, integrated teleservices for compulsory health insurance and pharmaceutical records for pharmacists. 

To get the new e-Card users, simply download the app, take photo of the current physical card and a selfie. The applicant then creates a four-digit password to protect the account and the card is activated. Doctors will then only need to scan a QR code displayed in the app or use a Near Field Communication (NFC) smart card reader to verify.   

The e-Carte Vitale allows healthcare professionals to draw up an electronic care sheet instead of a paper care sheet, giving the patient automatic reimbursement after one week, without having to contact their health insurance provider. The app will also allow users to track healthcare expenditures and avoid rejections of paper invoices. Additionally, data from the holder’s mutuelle will be stored in the e-card, and will allow a delegate to be chosen who can make health-related decisions or pick up prescriptions for those who cannot.      

The creators say it is a more practical option in today’s world, given that most people are glued to their smartphones and don’t always have physical cards to hand. 

Not all healthcare providers are set up for this system yet though, so those eager to make the switch may need to wait until their doctor’s office catches up.  


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Photo credit: Tbel Abuseridze for Unsplash