UK government digital services identity assurance initiative vital for digital healthcare
Updated: Feb 24
Identity and access management is one of the most challenging aspects of securing citizen, and from a National Health Service perspective patient, engagement on-line with services and information. This especially important when the engagement extends to on-line access to highly personalised information specific to individual citizens.
As the government digital service (GDS) makes progress on the digitisation of services it is pleasing to see that the team leading the development of services are engaging with experts to advice and guide on the development of key engagement protocols.
However whilst the current scope is concerned with the one to one relationship between citizens and government services, the real challenge to come for GDS identity assurance will be that of on-line engagement between citizens and healthcare service provision.
NHS Digital First
With the NHS Digital First initiative, on-line patient access to medical records, at least those hosted by the GP, are expected to be available by 2015. Other health initiatives such as the Delivery of Assisted Living and Lifestyles at Scale (DALLAS) is thinking beyond traditional health and social care, to consider how new ideas and technology can be used to improve the way people live.
From a healthcare perspective, it is widely acknowledged now that technology has significant potential to radically transform, and consequently improve the care delivery model, this especially so for the 15 million citizens in the UK presently living with one or more long-term chronic (LTC) conditions, and just as importantly the extraordinary individuals that provide care support to those suffering from LTC(s) that are typically family members and or friends.
And here is the catch, realistically the benefits to be derived from digital engagement with patients with LTC(s), encompassing tele-health, tele-care and assisted living technologies with access to medical information, will increase considerably if engagement becomes extended to the patients care circle, this largely taking the form of family and friends.
A patient’s personal care circle can often feature a wide number of different individuals, performing a range of different roles, for example:
A friend living close by might have a mentor role on diet and / or medication, a family member might be designated as the primary carer, and be the driver for GP and hospital appointments, another family member living further away might want access to assisted living device monitoring information and thus have an arm’s length role in care provision.
The biggest benefits subsequently and frequently argued to be so, are to derived from the provision of better support to the millions of citizens providing care, sufficient to enable them to more confidently undertake better informed interventions to head of negative escalations of a condition that can easily be avoided, and thus referral to a GP, or worse hospital.
Critically for these benefits to be realised quickly, Health and social care engagement needs to be capable of reaching the carer circle in the most appropriate way, identifying these individuals and the care roles they are undertaking is a key first step, with the capability to support citizen / patient consent to access appropriate health and social care information to their personal care circle, a vital second step.
Bigger Brief for Identity and privacy Management
Consequently, Identity and Access Management investment in solutions for the digital agenda needs to be capable of addressing more than just the requirements on the basis of a single citizen or patient. It needs to be capable of accommodating and managing information on relationships between citizens and their family / friends and from a health perspective, the roles that these additional individuals may be undertaken on behalf of the patient, and of course patient consent to access their information, to whomever they choose!