The Growing Need for Identity in Healthcare

December 3, 2018


  • Patient healthcare data is typically 20 times more valuable than credit card related data
  • The U.S. has an aging population. By 2035, the number of people over the age of 65 will outnumber millennials.
  • Americans spend an arm and a leg on healthcare. In 2015, healthcare related expenses totaled $3.2 trillion and are expected to grow an average of 5.5% through 2025, with 21% of that spending coming from people over the age of 65, and 31% of it from 54-64.
  • Life expectancy in the U.S. dropped for the third year in a row, driven by suicide and the opioid epidemic according to a 2018 report from the Center of Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics.
  • Shifting demographic patterns and negative U.S. health trends are set to increase the demand for medical care driving the need for increased data security; namely identity technologies focused on authentication, authorization, and deduplication to combat growing fraud concerns.

Identity in Healthcare Overview

The U.S. population is growing older and is set to hit an inflection point over the next several decades. In 2016, there were approximately 49 million people over the age of 65, about 14% of the total U.S. population, and that number is expected to grow to over 82 million by 2045, accounting for approximately 22% of the total population.

OWI anticipates these dynamic age demographics will pressure the medical community to change their approach to patient care and partner with players from the identity industry to handle the challenges of rising patient volumes and changing user behaviors.

The current healthcare system is primarily reactive. A person gets sick and then they go to the doctor. Most people wait until their illness progresses to a chronic stage before seeking the care of a doctor resulting in a much longer and more expensive recovery process. The growing prevalence of chronic diseases has caused the American Medical Association to request private and public healthcare providers to increase coverage benefits for these types of diseases.

To combat these challenges, medical professionals are seeking ways to change the paradigm and increase resource allocation to preventive medicine. For example, the Center for Elder Care and Rehabilitation Technology at the University of Missouri has been working for 10 years on ways to incorporate Identity of Things (IDoT) technologies into the healthcare ecosystem. They deployed sensors into elder communities to assess the walking performance of patients and notify their primary doctor if there was an activity worth noting.

In addition to this paradigm shift from reactive to proactive medicine, patient behaviors and expectations are set to change. Millennials are on track to begin engaging with the healthcare industry more often. To that end, healthcare identity infrastructures are not accustomed to working with “thin-file millennials,” or people that cache less data attributes in traditional repositories such as traditional credit bureaus. Contrary to the baby boomer generation, who entered the financial services system at young ages and built up strong identity profiles with these institutions, millennials are more interested in alternative forms of banking, restricting reliable identity data from traditional third-parties.


Strategic Thinking

Identity vendors have the opportunity to help the medical community through this paradigm shift by:

  1. Leveraging existing technologies: Identity professionals focused on advanced authentication modalities such as behavioral biometrics, IDoT monitoring, machine learning, and artificial intelligence mapping for pattern recognition can utilize these technologies to assist medical professionals in proactive care.
  2. Proactive medicine will necessitate a more user-centric approach that involves increased participation from patients and their devices. Identity professionals have the knowledge and expertise to deploy data collecting systems at scale that include the necessary data privacy techniques and authentication technologies to preserve the integrity of sensitive data in transport and at rest.
  3. Integrating cybersecurity measures: Personal patient information is, on average, 20 times more valuable than credit card data. As such, more data collection will increase the risk of medical databases as potential targets for cybercriminal activity. Cybersecurity firms should be proactive in helping healthcare companies establish secure data architectures that have the ability to scale with the expected boom of identity attributes.
  4. First-mover advantage: The identity industry were the first movers at tackling the challenge of verifying thin-file customers, and can leverage those lessons learned for the medical community.

Don’t miss KNOW 2019, the industry-leading conference on identity, trust, and the data economy. This year’s content includes dedicated panels on healthcare and how proper identity programs can create a safer trusted healthcare system for all.