Digital IDs Put You in Control of Your Information
Today we may feel like we’re drowning in information, but if you stop and think about it, you don’t actually control a lot of your own information. Have you found yourself in the dentist or doctor’s office, seeing all those files with color-coded stickers and numbers and wondering what they actually say about you? It’s your information.
Why is it kept out of your reach? Why do you have to peer upside down into the folder your doctor holds — it’s all about you!
When you need to visit a specialist, you have to call the doctor and have them send your health information to the specialist. If you are taking care of an elderly parent, you have to provide a power of attorney document to each doctor and the health insurance company. It’s time consuming, paper-based and antiquated. Even many “modern” electronic record systems don’t coordinate their information well.
Enter Digital IDs
Having a digital ID would put the power back in your hands, where it belongs. With a digital ID, you control your own personal information, and you decide who to share it with. You retain control over your identity and your health, financial, demographic, and other personal data.
All this sounds great—and even better, it’s becoming possible. Earlier this week, I attended the Distributed: Health conference, focusing on blockchain technology’s impact on the health industry.
When you create a digital ID with blockchain, you get a private key and a public key that you use to securely exchange money or data. Your digital ID can even indicate that certain information about you can be disclosed if you are incapacitated.
Blockchain is really just a sequential, irrefutable ledger of encrypted digital events that is shared between parties. Because the ledger is shared with all the participants, all activity is transparent (though the data is not), with no possibility of corruption or counterfeiting. You don’t need a middleman to validate the financial or data transactions, unlike today.
For Your Health
In the near-ish future you will have access to a complete history of your sickness (doctor’s office visits) and your health (annual exams, fitness trackers, diet and more). You’ll be able to share this full health profile instantly instead of waiting for paper to be sent. A blockchain-based health ID also provides a full chain of custody from a legal standpoint, protecting your identity and security.
Best of all, you won’t have to log into multiple portals for the doctor, the hospital and your insurance to check for coverage, share information, or schedule appointments. Whew! It’s about time – well, spending less of it managing your healthcare vendors.
Blockchain technology won’t just be revolutionary for healthcare, but also banking. Have you been inside a bank lately? It’s a ghost town. We all use ATMs, or even bank with our smart devices.
Many banks will be implementing systems using blockchain technology by 2020. Why? They hope to serve as the authenticator of your identity when digital tokens are used associated with your identity.
Here’s a simple example: Let’s say I need to send money to a family member in London. Today I have to go to the bank, fill out the paperwork, show them my ID, sign a bunch of stuff, verify I have the funds. It’s a time and paper intensive process. They charge me a transaction fee of $35 - $60 and then I have an exchange rate fee around 3%. Digital IDs and blockchain technology will eliminate a lot of the hassle, charge about a 1% fee, and I can do it from my smartphone. (Of course, if you need to send money in the United States, you can already use Paypal or Venmo for no fee.)
There’s plenty of disruption going on in the marketplace based on the digital demands of the consumer. Blockchain technology makes it possible for the consumer to get what they want and now. As the digital native generations continue to age, being in control, having information at your fingertips, and requiring top-notch security will be the norm. And we’ll all benefit from that.