Digital Identity Demonstrates its Crucial Role in Transforming Healthcare

Across the world, healthcare continues to be one of the biggest sources of public expenditure. As such, there is increasing pressure to find more efficient means of delivery. Digital and IoT solutions such as Turkcell’s Healthmeter, have long given us a glimpse of what the future of healthcare –and in particular, remote monitoring and diagnostics- may look like, yet the broader health industry needs to ensure that patients are comfortable with the manner in which they access new-age services.

Mobile Connect, the mobile industry’s identity solution demonstrated its credentials as leading candidate for ensuring patients gain access to these services securely, conveniently and in such a way that protects their privacy.  This was demonstrated at the GSMA Innovation City at this year’s Mobile World Congress whereby attendees where given the opportunity to experience how a secure identity solution can be used from the point of diagnosis, to payment of medicine and finally, to retrieving the relevant products from the pharmaceutical vendor.

San Diego Health Connect demonstrated their solution ‘Medical Records Exchange’, which granted practitioners secure access to their patients’ health records, by authenticating their identities via Mobile Connect.  Healthcare professionals authorised by the patient could view information such as test results, allergies, medications and progress reports, by completing a simple two-step portal process.  The speed, safety, coordination and cost of care can all thereby be improved – where a doctor might otherwise need to apply for records, or at least take the time to sit at a computer, they can now access the information they need seamlessly during consultations or even medical procedures.

The solution also enhances efficiency outside the user’s clinic, by facilitating vital communication with authorised third parties.  When a patient is discharged from hospital, or is admitted to an emergency room, their doctor can be alerted instantly, giving them the maximum notice possible to consider care strategies. External practitioners working in related areas of a patient’s care can also exchange information and assessments via the solution’s Direct Secure Messaging function, allowing them to present highly confidential and often complex data via a purpose-designed service, rather than creating the paper trail of fax or needing both parties to be available for a phone call.  Where time is particularly precious, as when a patient is on board an emergency vehicle, the receiving clinic can be updated ahead of arrival with the information they need to commence care without delay.

While successful case studies entrusting sensitive data to the internet via practitioners will be vital to any move towards connected healthcare, however, they are not the whole story.  Much of this trust is to be achieved by placing patients themselves in the driving seat: where patients can play a role in viewing and administering their own digital records, the journey to digital healthcare can be made with more comfortable passengers on board.

In England, for example, 77 per cent of patients agree that having greater control over their digital health records would improve outcomes, and 88 per cent of doctors agree; the actual figure having done so however sits far below either, at 16 per cent.  The demand is there; the tools are on their way.  This is the patient-centric approach favoured by OpenCDE, whose Document Archiving and Communication System (DACS) enables the sharing of clinical information through a collaborative network of patients, healthcare organisations and providers, through a continuous process of patient input, as opposed to simply authorisation in advance.  Developed in Spain, DACS was conceived in part as a response to one of the chief barriers to efficiency in cross-border European healthcare: non-standardised health records, which are the main cause of 80 per cent of medical errors in Europe.  In doing so, OpenCDE decided to integrate their digital archive system with Mobile Connect, to offer a simple and secure means for patients to log into and manage their own health records.

Users can now access a range of medical information from their mobile phone, allowing them to monitor and act on that data in real time, without necessarily requiring an in-clinic appointment.  Patients can check to make sure their medical history is accurate and complete, and share selected records with family members, caregivers, or new medical professionals.  They can also track information such as when their children last had immunisations, or the trajectory of ongoing blood test results.  They can make practical inroads to their own wellbeing by connecting that health information to digital tools and apps on their phones, allowing them to act in whichever ways they are able without needing to see a doctor.  The time and resources saved to both sides, as well as the sense of command patients will gain from taking the reins, are difficult to overestimate.

Perhaps the simplest way to establish confidence among users of digital healthcare solutions, however, is to start with payments. While multi-function solutions offer the most sophisticated improvements in practical terms, for many patients the convenience of accessing pharmaceutical accounts and replenishing medications will provide the most observable gains in convenience. Inside the GSMA Innovation City, VISA and InterBev demonstrated the step that follows diagnosis with solutions that use Mobile Connect to provide identity authorisation for buying and dispensing medications.  By pairing login details with additional factors via the user’s mobile device and network – for example, by establishing whether a transaction is undertaken from an expected location or with a typical frequency for the verified users – pharmaceutical products can be selected and paid for remotely, negating the long process of obtaining repeat prescriptions in person, or subsequently travelling to a pharmacy.  This deft use of the natural advantages mobile networks can offer is likely to be, for many, their first experience of digital healthcare.  Through this fusion of the superlative security capacities of VISA and Mobile Connect, we are confident of its contribution to the task ahead.