Whenever we go to the Doctor’s office we are invariably asked for a Driver’s License and Health Insurance Card which is Photocopied or scanned. At Onyx, we believe a digital insurance card can be dramatically more useful.

The CARIN Alliance has been working with health plans to develop a HL7 FHIR Implementation Guide that enables a standard method for transmitting the details on a Health Plan insurance card: CARIN Digital Insurance Card.

“We believe a digital insurance card can be dramatically more useful.

— Mark Scrimshire, Chief Interoperability Officer, Onyx
First a Vaccine Card. Next… a Digital Insurance Card

“What if we could implement the Digital insurance Card WITHOUT requiring a member to login with a User Id and password!”

– Susheel Ladwa, CEO, Onyx

Onyx has deployed many Patient Access API implementations for Health Plans and State Medicaid agencies. The Patient Access API includes CARIN Blue Button support. The resources in the Blue Button implementation compliment the Digital Insurance Card. Onyx therefore developed a data ingestion specification to enable Health Plans to build on the data they are already providing for the Patient Access API. While an optimized data ingestion process simplifies implementation of support for the Digital Card, it doesn’t “move the needle” on consumer use of these FHIR APIs.

Moving the Needle for Consumer Use of Digital Tools

The recent pandemic saw some amazing transformations in healthcare delivery. We saw a surge in adoption of Telehealth. We also saw the creation and implementation of a Vaccine Card that could be installed in your smartphone wallet – a SMART Health Card.

At Onyx, as we considered how we could improve patient access to health data, we thought about whether we could deliver a SMART Health Card version of the Digital Insurance Card. We believe it can be done. We are ready to pilot the solution in partnership with the SMART Health Card and SMART Health Links team.

The pilot would enable a member of a health plan to load a digital version of their Health Insurance card into the wallet of their smartphone. This is very cool technology. But there is still one big hurdle to address…

That darn User Id and Password

In the new world of data exchange, where the CMS Interoperability Rule and ONC’s Information Blocking regulations have opened up data access for patients there is still one major hurdle: The User Id and Password.

Getting Members/Patients to engage is a challenge when the number of consumers with active digital credentials is still miniscule.

Our intrepid CEO, Susheel Ladwa, laid down a challenge:

“What if we could implement the Digital insurance Card WITHOUT requiring a member to login with a User Id and password!”

Our team of FHIR Engineers thought about this and we came up with a solution.

By integrating the Digital Insurance Card FHIR data models with SMART Health Card and SMART Health Links we could let consumers access a QR Code that represents their Insurance Card.

The team then looked at work we have done adapting MoveMyHealthData for Brokers. By marrying these two approaches we developed the solution. A member could call their Health Plan and in a call with a Customer Service Agent, or an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, could receive their digital insurance card on their smartphone where they could add it to their wallet.

Driving Demand

Sure, getting the Insurance Card into a digital wallet is cool! But we want health plan members to find this useful. Useful enough for them to go and get their digital copy.

How can we make the Digital Card useful?

  • The Commons Project has already done great work to create a verifier app. If we can get a verifier integrated into EMRs it will encourage front desk staff to ask for the digital card.
  • Can Health Plans publish a link on their Insurance Card that prompts members to download a digital version?

Building this momentum needs a community. Fortunately we have the CARIN Alliance. The Alliance convenes a community of members that includes Health Plans, Provider organizations, health technology vendors, consumer apps and patient/consumer organizations.

If you are a Health Plan wanting to pilot a revolutionary Digital Health Insurance Card please get in touch!

We are issuing an open letter to our fellow members of the CARIN Alliance. It is a call to Action.

Here is the letter:

To: The CARIN Alliance

A Call to Action for the CARIN Alliance

We are looking for Payers wanting to implement a Digital Insurance Card that can be implemented across their Government and Commercial Plans. Are you ready to join in?

At The CARIN Community meeting there was a great discussion about how we could build on the success of the SMART Health Vaccine card by expanding to other use cases.

At Onyx we have been working on implementing the CARIN Digital Insurance Card. We have developed a delta ingestion that would allow Health Plans to build on the CARIN Blue Button data in the Patient Access API to deliver a Digital Insurance Card implementation. Enabling re-use of existing data structures lowers the barrier to adoption. However despite this optimization, it is not enough to move the needle on adoption of FHIR APIs. So, we at Onyx went further…

What is the biggest barrier to adoption in Patient Mediated Exchange?

  • The need to establish and use a user id and password!

We applaud the work of the CARIN Alliance to push the adoption of Digital Identity. Imagine if we could engage members WITHOUT requiring them to setup a user id and password. We believe it is possible – by leveraging SMART Health Cards and SMART Health Links. Josh Mandel and I discussed this today on the SMART Health Links call.

At Onyx, we have designed a member interaction that can be managed by a Customer Service Agent and/or IVR system. We are looking for Payers that are interested in piloting this new workflow that builds on the Digital Insurance Card Implementation Guide. If this can be coupled with leveraging a SMART Card Reader for Providers, we believe this approach could drive adoption of FHIR APIs in a significant way.

If you are interested in participating in a pilot implementation, please reach out to me.


Mark Scrimshire
Chief Interoperability Officer

One Response

  1. How does Onyx’s deployment of Patient Access API implementations, particularly those supporting CARIN Blue Button and Digital Insurance Card, contribute to the enhancement of consumer use of FHIR APIs, and how does the optimized data ingestion process simplify implementation for Health Plans?
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