In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, the concept of consumerism has taken center stage. Patients are no longer passive recipients of healthcare services; they have become active consumers, making informed decisions about their care. This shift has been significantly accelerated by digital enablement, which brings with it a myriad of tools and solutions designed to empower patients and improve their healthcare experiences.
However, amidst this transformation, one crucial aspect often goes overlooked – identity management. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of identity management in the context of consumerism and digital enablement in healthcare.
The rise of consumerism in healthcare
Consumerism in healthcare refers to the idea that patients are no longer mere recipients of medical care but active participants who make decisions about their health and wellness. This shift in perspective has been driven by several factors, including advancements in technology in other service areas. As contactless check-ins at airports, online banking that never requires visits to a physical branch, and grocery shopping without waiting for a cashier have become commonplace, patients expect the same level of convenience from their doctor’s office.
Even individuals who don’t comparison shop in other aspects of their lives might be forced to do so when it comes to healthcare. Since 2010, the average single deductible has increased from $917 to $1,644. Coupled with more workers having a deductible in their plan (from 70% in 2010 to 83% in 2020), the burden of deductibles increased by 111% across all covered workers. These rising costs are turning formerly passive patients into active consumers looking for the care option that provides the most value.
Digital enablement in healthcare
Digital enablement in healthcare encompasses a wide range of technologies and tools that have transformed the industry. Solutions aimed at improving patient care and engagement include the following:
1. Electronic Health Records (EHRs):
EHRs have replaced paper-based records, enabling healthcare providers to access a patient’s complete medical history at the click of a button. The HITECH Act, signed into law in 2009, was created to encourage healthcare providers to adopt EHRs. By 2021, 96% of hospitals used an EHR system. Patients, too, can access their EHRs, allowing for greater transparency and collaboration in care decisions.
2. Digital front doors
The digital front door is a relatively new way to manage the patient experience. Rather than one single application, it encompasses all channels through which healthcare organizations communicate and interact with their patients and members. This could include technology that allows patients to self-register, make their appointments online, receive reminders, conduct virtual visits, and more. It is important that these applications are easy to use to provide a low barrier of entry for all patients and consumers looking for care.
Telemedicine gained widespread acceptance during COVID-19, enabling remote consultations with healthcare professionals. Patients can seek medical advice from the comfort of their homes, reducing the need for physical visits and increasing access to care, especially in remote areas.
4. Wearable devices:
Wearable devices, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, have empowered individuals to monitor their health continuously. These devices track everything from heart rate to activity levels, providing valuable data for both patients and healthcare providers.
4. Mobile apps:
Mobile health apps cover a wide range of functionalities, from symptom tracking and medication management to mental health support. These apps empower patients to actively manage their health and engage in preventive measures.
Identity Management’s Crucial Role
All of these tools handle identity data of patients and providers to some degree. To utilize digital enablement tools to their full abilities and provide outstanding patient experience, healthcare organizations need to ensure the data feeding these systems is accurate, complete, and up to date. An identity management solution built for healthcare enhances the effectiveness of digital front doors and other digital enablement tools by matching and linking all of the fragmented records in siloed systems that make up a patient’s medical history, medications, allergies, and past treatments.
But unless there is a central solution connecting information from all of these systems, healthcare providers will never be able to see the full picture.
The Verato hMDM platform can resolve, enrich, and manage identity data from disparate sources, including EHRs, digital front doors, and third-party data, even when information is missing, incorrect, or outdated. As the industry’s first master data management (MDM) solution built for the unique needs of healthcare organizations, the platform can manage patients, providers, consumers, and members for a 360-degree view of every individual in your care.
Best practices in identity management
Healthcare organizations looking to improve their identity management should consider several factors and best practices when choosing a solution.
- Invest in an enterprise identity solution that serves as a single source of truth for identity instead of relying on mater enterprise index (MPI) solutions that are embedded in EHRs. MPIs employ simplistic matching algorithms are not built to rationalize data originating outside the EHR system. Enterprise master enterprise index (EMPI) and master data management (MDM) solutions are standalone tools that can connect data from sources across an entire healthcare enterprise.
- Consider identity management across all domains of people data, including current and future patients, members, and providers. Knowing who is who across all of these categories improves the experience for both patients and providers.
- Focus on accuracy of matching when choosing an identity solution. Both false positives (revealing another person’s records) and false negatives (failing to surface all records for one individual from fragmented sources) can be dangerous, harm the consumer/patient experience, and even be illegal. Many matching algorithms struggle when data is inaccurate, outdated, or incomplete. Referential matching, on the other hand, utilizes reference data to connect the right data to the right person, and can match data where other systems struggle.
In the digital age of healthcare consumerism, identity management is not just a technical concern but a fundamental pillar of patient trust and data security. As consumers increasingly take charge of their healthcare journeys through digital enablement, healthcare organizations must prioritize identity management to protect patient identities and data, foster trust, and ensure the success of consumer-centric healthcare.
By recognizing the vital role of identity management in this evolving landscape, healthcare providers can build strong foundations for secure, patient-centered digital healthcare experiences, ultimately benefiting both providers and the consumers they serve.
To learn more about how Verato can support your digital initiatives, click here to book a demo.