Electronic health records and digital identity
Electronic health records containing some of people’s most protected personal data are making headlines again as a consortium of players join forces to create a universal single sign-on, allowing patients to securely access to unified health data via digital identity.
Coming out of the ViVE health technology conference taking place this week in Miami Beach, the effort is being led by consumer-focused healthcare advocacy group CARIN Alliance, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other stakeholders.
Tuesday (March 8), Politico reported that HHS “is working with multiple health systems, insurers, and health technology groups to roll out a single way for patients to connect and access their medical records across multiple systems. Launching later this month will set up a testing environment for integrating the technology, said Ryan Howells, director of Leavitt Partners and program manager at the CARIN Alliance, which is leading the effort.
CARIN is working with the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which will act as “government observers.”
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The first goal is proof of concept, under which organizations using the technology would “allow patients who have proven their identity to access their health information from different systems in one step,” according to Politico. Patients could then select an ID service provider from an approved list of companies under HHS’ “XMS External User Management System”.
“Without a national patient identifier or standardized verification of a person’s identity, it is more difficult for health care systems to share data and match patients with their records, especially those with the same name. The identity verification system would allow health systems to verify that patients requesting data are who they say they are and to match patient records with data from other systems, allowing data to flow,” Politico reported.
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About 20 healthcare organizations, including Kaiser Permanente, Providence, health plans like CVS Health and Cambia, and ID service providers like ID.me are participating in the effort.
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According to CARINE presentation materials, this is in addition to efforts that include the Sequoia Project – an independent advocacy and policy group working to reduce barriers to interoperability in the exchange of healthcare information within the Framework for Exchange of Trust and Common Agreement (TEFCA).
However, barriers to the secure exchange of health information are proving difficult to overcome. For example, Healthcare IT News reported that, “While TEFCA is structured to create nationwide electronic health record connectivity, it can only work if a network of provider organizations is part of the Qualified Health Information Networks, or QHINs, that facilitate the data sharing. Unfortunately, many providers are still unfamiliar with the new agreement.”
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Modern healthcare reported that the goal is for “patients to use a credentialing service that has been certified by an independent third party and in partnership with the HHS External User Management System.” This accreditation service “authenticates” the patient, who can now access data from participating providers and payers.
As the report noted, “It depends on providers, health plans, and other organizations having confidence that the credentialing service has adequately established that the patient is who they say they are.”
CARIN said it will release a public report on its operation by the end of the year.
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