By Gevik Nalbandian
Starting this week, patients no longer need to visit their physician offices to retrieve their medical records. Thanks to new legislation under ONC ‘s interoperability rule, patients can now access and share their digital health records using their smartphones.
With more convenient access to their medical information, consumers can now become increasingly more aware, involved, and educated about their health. More importantly, they can become active participants in managing their health data and ensuring the accuracy of their medical histories.
However, for the industry to truly empower consumers to oversee their health data, it will have to take advantage of the mobile revolution and create a seamless, password-less experience. And that starts with identity.
Imagine a world where patients no longer have to fill out paperwork each time they visit their care provider. Today, consumers can shop, pay bills, stream music, or watch a movie without having to enter in their information every time they open an app. Yet they continually receive a clipboard of forms to fill out when they see their doctor for an exam.
To deliver a better patient experience, while retaining safety, security, and compliance, healthcare must embrace ways to collect, verify, and share digital patient identities. By leveraging one’s smartphone to organize and consolidate digital IDs into a single location, consumers have a one-stop tool for managing and distributing their health data. This also represents an opportunity for patients to manage their identity without having to handover any physical documents. By placing control of this information in the hands of the patient through a secure, private smartphone application, providers can meet emerging standards of patient data access and consent whilst simultaneously empowering patients to take charge of their own care.
Further, a digital wallet for retaining multiple forms of identification in one convenient place bypasses the need for consumers to remember multiple usernames and passwords. It also enables them to stay in complete control over where their online identity is stored and how it is used.
Helping consumers control, manage and consolidate their online identities (or accounts) in one place is not a new concept. However, it still is not adequately advanced for there to be mass adoption across industries. Healthcare, being a laggard in technological advances, will likely be the last sector across industries to follow suit. But what if healthcare can lead the pack for once?
At NextGate, we have been working on such a mission and shaking all sorts of core beliefs. We feel we can guide healthcare to be a leader in having consumers control and manage their own data, share their data as they choose, and declare who should be able to access their data based on an individual’s consent declarations and preferences.
For example, I may want to allow my anonymized information to be shared for clinical trials, or that in an emergency, have a simple “break-the-glass” consent to allow my physician to access my health data but not share it with the rest of my healthcare team.
NextGate will be changing how consumers fundamentally interact with health systems, clinics, pharmacies, medicine delivery networks, public health organization, their payers and ultimately with every entity they have to identify themselves with to engage in some sort of business or transaction. We know a convenient approach to identity that guarantees patient privacy and consent will be essential to consumerizing the healthcare experience. Watch this space. It will be red hot in the months to come.
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Gevik Nalbandian is Vice President of Software Engineering for NextGate, the global leader in healthcare enterprise identification. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.