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The Importance of Digital Identity in Healthcare

Mike Engle

The Importance of Digital Identity and Wallets in Healthcare

Traditional processes in today’s healthcare landscape have left sensitive personal information scattered across a lifetime of providers. This makes it difficult for individuals to access their health information and make informed decisions about their care. However, the future of healthcare is moving towards a model where individuals can create and control their own digital identity to access benefits and coverage. This would give patients more control over their health data and allow them to make more informed decisions about their care. This blog post will explore the importance of digital identity in healthcare and how it can benefit both patients and providers.

What are Digital Identity and Digital Wallets?

Digital identity is an electronic and portable representation of an individual’s real-world identity. When a digital identity is controlled by the user (or “holder”), it is referred to as a digital wallet. Identity information can include name, date of birth, gender, address, and other contact information. A wallet can also include sensitive personal information like medical records, insurance coverage, and financial history. In the healthcare context, when done properly, a digital wallet will allow a patient to control which information is shared with which providers. For example, a patient could share their medical records with their primary care physician but not another.

When implemented properly, a digital identity replaces the current identity construct of a username and password with a verified identity. Verified identities ensure that users are who they say they are, where biometrics are matched with government-certified credentials to verify the identity holder. The biometric can then secure authentication into the user’s account. The user’s digital identity and PII data will be stored in a portable digital identity wallet under the owner’s complete control.

Why Is a Digital Wallet Important in Healthcare?

There are several reasons why a digital wallet is important in healthcare. First, it gives patients more control over their health data and privacy. With traditional healthcare processes, patients’ sensitive personal information is scattered across many providers with no central repository. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for patients to access their records and make informed decisions about their care and doctors may need access to see a full patient history. With a digital wallet, patients can choose which providers can access their selected information. This control will implicitly improve the privacy controls the patient has over their data.

Second, digital wallets will allow patients to receive better care by making it easier for providers to access their records. Today, it can be difficult for providers to get a complete picture of a patient’s health history if they have seen multiple specialists or received care at different facilities over the years.

Third, digital wallets will help reduce errors and improve safety in healthcare. According to the Institute of Medicine, medical errors cost the US healthcare system billions of dollars each year and cause harm to hundreds of thousands of patients. A major contributing factor to these errors is the difficulty accessing complete and accurate patient medical records. If all of a patient’s records could be easily accessed by authorized providers, it would be easier to avoid mistakes and ensure that everyone was working with the most up-to-date information.

Fourth, digital wallets will assist with fraud prevention in healthcare. There are many instances of fraud in healthcare, from people pretending to be someone they’re not to receive care to billing for services that were never provided. When every patient has a unique digital identity verified by providers, it will be much harder for criminals to commit fraud.

Digital wallets are an important part of the future of healthcare. They give patients more control over their health data, allow them to receive better care, reduce errors, improve safety and privacy, and reduce fraud. Providers and payers should adopt requirements to accelerate an individual’s ability to create and manage their unique digital identity. Patients must create and manage their unique digital identities to easily identify themselves, schedule appointments, and receive benefits and coverage.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, please register for my upcoming interactive webinar, “The Role of Digital Identity in Modernizing Health Care“.

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