CitizenID - single sign-in for health and social care

14/07/2018 13:10

NHS Digital has announced CitizenID as being part of suite of services that will allow members of the public to have a single set of login credentials across health and social care.

Today, if you are accessing or updating health and/or social care information about you chances are you will have different login credentials for each service.

For example, if you want to order repeat prescriptions or booking appointments with your GP online you need to register with your GP practice. You then get a letter through the post with a security token that allows you to login into your information. The GP has by enabling the patient to use online access verified that you are who you say you are - this is a valuable action by the GP and now allows your identity to be used. However, today it's only available to your GP.

Universal login with Citizen ID

NHS Digital is creating Citizen ID to be a verified identify service that allows members of the public in England to have a single sign-on. This service will then be made available to third parties to use, providing a true single sign-on for members of the public across health and social care applications.

Why not use Google or Facebook sign-in?

It's a good question, because for years technologies like oAuth have allowed organisations to provide services that use Google and Facebook (for example) as the credentials service. The answer is that there's no way of knowing that the person who is using the account is who they say they are. That's the nub of the problem - the NHS needs to know that you are who you say you are.

How will the NHS verify you are who you say you are?

The GP is the current first port of call. They will continue to be a trusted source for confirming you are who you say you are. However, they are busy, and if the NHS wants to have a national rollout of Citizen ID then millions of people turning up to a GP Practice to get their details verified will bring primary care to a grinding stop.

Will need some magic but could work

The next approach has the potential to work magically, but could also be a logistical nightmare. People are going to be asked to provide a picture of a form of official photo ID like their driving license with their address and photo on it. They are then going to be asked to provide a selfie video of themselves. Then a human is going to verify that the person in the photo is also in the video. This is where its could go wrong and there will be a PR nightmare, but if it can be made to work it will be revolutionary for online services.

Revolution will start

Once the person's identity has been verified they are now able to access personal services about them and their health and social care. This will be a revolutionary starting point as it will trigger the launch of a number of services as the identify of the users can now be trusted. Congratulations NHS Digital, this could be the most significant service that you offer in the next 10 years. Lets expect some bumps in the road but lets help make it work!

Link to NHS Digital Citizen ID page

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