Insights from Interac Corp.|Whitepapers

Digital Identity in Health

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Making health care more effective, efficient, and secure for Canadians

A secure digital identity could eliminate minutes, hours, or even weeks of delay currently caused by the need to show or send physical copies of identity cards or other credentials.

Introduction

As in most developed countries, health care in Canada comprises a significant portion of the economy: in 2015, such spending – almost $5,800 per person – amounted to 10.4% of our GDP*. To compete and prosper in a technology-driven world, Canadians need secure, ubiquitous, and convenient digital identity systems, and a sector as important as health care – in both its public and private-sector aspects – stands to benefit greatly from digital identity in at least three ways.

First, and most obviously, through improved efficiencies. The need to identify oneself when seeking access to health services comes up frequently in every process: booking a doctor’s appointment, picking up a prescription, checking into a hospital, registering in a new province. Even health care professionals need to identify themselves when requesting access to patient records or prescribing medications. At each step, a secure digital identity could eliminate minutes, hours, or even weeks of delay currently caused by the need to show or send physical copies of identity cards or other credentials. A system made faster through digital identities would be a less expensive system, freeing up resources that could be used in higher-impact areas.

Second, by reducing the risk of heath care fraud – a continuing concern for governments and taxpayers. Provincial health cards may be applied for with forged documents, or, being physical, they may be forged themselves. Paper-based prescriptions may be falsified, or filled in the wrong person’s name. Health service providers may bill payors (whether governments or insurance companies) for services not actually rendered. And while the total cost of health care fraud is difficult to estimate, it is likely that the expensive processes and manpower devoted to keeping fraud in check could be significantly reduced through digital identity systems.

Finally, by improving health outcomes, which is a goal that patients, governments, and private-sector providers alike can support. Getting the right services to the right person without error – and preventing services or drugs being given to the wrong person – with the speed, efficiency, and convenience that secure digital identities enable, is key to raising the effectiveness of the health system as a whole. In short: healthier Canadians, at less cost.

This paper sets out five guiding principles that we think should lie at the foundation of any broadly-adopted digital identity system, and walks through three examples of how such capabilities could improve our health care system for the benefit of all Canadians.

* Source: Canadian Institute for Health Information
https://www.cihi.ca/en/how-does-canadas-health-spending-compare-internationally

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