Know your customer: How this could benefit the healthcare system

The legitimacy check “Know your customer” has been known for a long time, e.g. when opening bank accounts, when issuing identity cards and in official registrations, i.e. in processes in which identities must be checked for the security of all parties involved.

Over the decades and with the introduction of the Internet, “Know your customer” or KYC for short – has changed significantly. Of course, there must be new security standards, because the Internet has opened the door for online business and payments in a new global marketplace. Payments, orders and deliveries must be secured, the customer wants to receive his goods, the supplier wants his money. 

Is the KYC the sole authentication for secure global trade today?

Sometimes I think about how algorithms work in life. Today, you often have to disclose at least a small part of your personal data to get information online. Companies collect this information after a single order or after an information visit, in order not to lose the customer again.

It is both fascinating and frightening to see the accuracy with which everything is digitally personalized for us today! No matter what we do, only a short time later we receive advertising, suggestions or new ideas. 

Does the KYC have a completely different dimension today? Is it no longer just about identifying the person?

The KYC is being instrumentalized today. All the data we provide is not only used to identify us, but also to study our preferences, interests, behaviour and motives. KYC today means getting to know your customer, analysing his interests and adapting algorithms accordingly, probably not just to generate revenue. What was the old saying? “The most important thing you can use is information!”  

Do we always have full control over our personal information?

Honestly, I would welcome it if the health industry had more information about my health status, because that would enable them to act and react in a more targeted manner in an emergency. 

Of course, personal sensitivities are highly sensitive information. And no, of course not everybody should get it as easily as my preferences when shopping online. However, I think that there is a big gap between the current state of health care today and the possibilities that can already be implemented. By the way: how much of our personal data do we already “have to” entrust to official bodies, e.g. to be able to travel without restrictions, or give to institutions to open accounts or move funds. Do we have a 100% guarantee that our data will not fall into the wrong hands?

I don’t think so, but we have every confidence that at least government or government-controlled agencies will not misuse it.

Why can’t this be done in the healthcare sector? 

Of course, health care spending is a necessary burden for every state. A state must have a health infrastructure, it is part of the system. Every year, the health care system swallows up enormous sums of the state budget, and the trend is downward? Misjudgment! People are getting older than just a few decades ago, diseases are spreading faster due to globalisation, the need for care is increasing continuously and no generation should be forgotten. Prevention also plays an enormous role and is cost-intensive. 

Isn’t a KYC or better a KYP (Know your patient), as we know it today, a sensible way to improve the health care system?

Admittedly, from the point of view of a politician, the financing of the health care system is a burden. Money from tax revenues is invested without generating revenue. High levels of expenditure and investment are necessary, often without any immediately recognisable benefit.

It is understandable that politicians are squirming about investing additional funds to push ahead with the long overdue digitisation, especially if one assumes that desired successes may not be achieved as quickly as, for example, often positive results from investments by companies. 

“Know your patient” (KYP) has enormous potential for savings in the long term, or at least can more easily bring the rapid increase in expenditure under control and at the same time improve the health of each individual in the long term. 

On closer inspection, I think it is obvious that digitisation in the healthcare sector – and KYP as a part of it – is the only viable option in the long term, both to avoid a cost explosion and to achieve better and more efficient treatment and patient recovery.

The current coronavirus pandemic is a striking example of the need for digitisation.

Serious cuts in our personal rights and freedoms, e.g. through travel restrictions, closed shops, the wearing of masks, a proper safety distance and many other measures, are a clear indication of the weaknesses in health care systems worldwide. Suddenly, there are big calls for digital solutions such as telehealth, contactless treatment, digital consultation hours and much more.

Could the pandemic have been better controlled and contained, could human lives have been saved? 

Provided that there was a digital patient ID card and that all the protagonists involved – insurance companies, doctors, hospitals and the state – had information about previous illnesses, allergies, the current health picture or existing medications and thus the possibility of quickly providing digital information to people at risk, this would certainly have helped to better control such a pandemic. 

Large, future-oriented corporations such as Microsoft, Google, Apple or Facebook leave nothing to chance in order to act as effectively as possible. Why should this not be possible in the health sector. 

Often, when I exchange views with others, the issue of data protection is raised in this context, especially in the current climate. And again and again I am of the opinion that I often feel too supervised and express my astonishment at the way my data is handled by large corporations. Just as often I get the same answer: “I don’t care who is monitoring me and how, I don’t want to get into trouble, what should happen”. 

All right, it’s partly my own fault, after all I leave my “footprint” often enough, because I don’t want to do without digital support, it simply makes my life easier and more comfortable. 

Only one bastion remains to be conquered to close the circle of our digital life, and that is an enormously important one, our health. If my health and my life can be better protected through the use of digital information, then I would like to do so with my data. It is about time!

©, Author: Hermann Kamp, CEO ClinicAll International

Picture by Anna Shvets at Pexels