NHS Digital should be going live with "a single, secure identity for each member of the public, across all health and care services" this autumn, according to NHS Digital's latest business plan.
The digital identity plan will be integrated with NHS.uk to create a single point of public access to online information and health service "interactions", it adds, including the personal health record that is being developed, which will give patients online access to their health records for the first time.
NHS Digital aims to complete its "Citizen Identity" projects by 30 September this year, while the online access to health records project isn't expected to be completed until 2020 at the earliest.
In a statement to Government Computing, NHS Digital claimed that it was "exploring a number of strategic options for authentication and identity verification for digital health services, including consideration of existing services such as Patient Online and GOV.UK Verify.
"We are taking an incremental approach and we will be publishing updates as we progress through this work."
The extension of Gov.UK Verify to the NHS would drastically expand adoption of the identity platform. It currently has some 1.2m users, but has a target of signing up 25 million by 2020.
However, the NHS needs an identity management system that can tie identity to a single, personal NSH number, and which will also comply with incoming EU privacy regulations.
Gov.UK Verify, meanwhile, is an attempt to provide an identity management system to government, which doesn't simply turn into a massive, centralised government database of its citizens.
The Gov.UK Verify platform effectively outsources the identification part of users to one of a number of pre-selected companies, who perform the identity check up to the ‘level of assurance' (LOA) security standard.
The Gov.UK Verify project, led by the Government Digital Service (GDS), hasn't had an easy birth, partly due to the restrictions that need to be placed around it.
It has had to fight off claims that the technology it is based on is insecure, and there have also been suggestions that the GDS and HMRC have been conducting a 'turf war' over approaches to identity management.
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