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Identity verification initiative sets stage for enhanced patient engagement

CARIN Alliance and HHS team up to test unifying patient access to medical records across multiple systems.
By admin
Mar 15, 2022, 12:24 PM

Well past the tipping point of most patients wanting to view their medical records online, providers are testing ways for consumers to access more of their digital health information with increased convenience.

The CARIN Alliance is working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — along with 20 healthcare organizations, insurers and health IT groups — to create a unified way for patients to log in and access their medical records across multiple systems. CARIN’s vision is to rapidly ramp up the ability for patients and their authorized caregivers “to easily get, use and share their digital health information when, where and how they want to achieve their goals.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) will serve as observers of the testing effort, which is scheduled to launch in late March. The participating healthcare organizations (Cedars-Sinai Health System, Kaiser Permanente, Marshfield Clinic Health System and Providence Health System) seek to verify that patients who have proved their identity can access their health information from different systems in a single step. 

Related story: Advancing health information exchange in a post-pandemic world

The providers will work with third-party credential service providers who have been HHS-approved to interface with the XMS identity broker. In the draft use case for a consumer-facing application, the user chooses an application to “identity-proof” themselves via the credentialing service provider and the XMS flow, which then authenticates the action to multiple provider and payer endpoints using FHIR (FAST Healthcare Interoperability Resources) technology. CARIN will issue a report of the test-bed findings by the end of 2022.

Patient portal engagement strategy

In its Patient Engagement Playbook, the ONC explains that facilitating enrollment in a patient portal starts by providing a simple and secure signup process. The patient should only have to enter a few pieces of information. The portal then confirms the patient’s identity on the back end.

For providers, a policy of automatically enrolling patients in a portal account is required. ONC notes that portal use should be integrated into care plans (e.g., making follow-up appointments, complying with recommended screenings, requesting prescription refills). 

Additionally, providers should view office visits as prime opportunities for portal registration. Offer multiple registration “touchpoints” during a visit, such as at check-in/out and with medical personnel who can sign up patients on the spot via tablet or kiosk.

Further, clinicians and staff should develop talking points about the value of accessing the patient portal. Prime examples include the ability to view lab results, pay bills, schedule appointments and send messages. Keep in mind that individuals encouraged by their caregiver to use their online medical information are almost twice as likely to access it compared to those who are not encouraged.

Technology will help empower patients to gather the information they need to make choices about their healthcare. Efforts such as the CARIN initiative will test what works best on patients’ behalf while providers drive toward improved outcomes within a value-based framework.


Frank Irving is a Philadelphia-based content writer and communications consultant with specialties in healthcare, technology and sports. When not following those beats, he writes creative fiction.

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