Billions of dollars in identity management

By Stefano Virgilli — Identity management is a popular area that has attracted many acquirers whose interest recently resulted in a number of purchases of companies in the sector. Some of the reasons that attract acquirers into these investments are the benefits from partnering or owning an identity management company, including avoiding expensive breaches and the opportunity to reduce fatal medical mistakes.
Last year, identity management companies generated more than $6 billion in purchases. The acquisition was made from both strategic and private property buyers. The public company LifeLock which was selling for a premium price over the trading prices was acquired by Symantec. Life Lock was a provider of identity theft prevention services and was purchased in November for $2.3 billion.
Last summer, Imprivata, a provider of patient authentication technology for the healthcare industry, was acquired from the private Thoma Bravo for a 33 per cent over the company’s public estimate.
Beside the public companies that got purchased for premium prices, the private companies had their share as well. Oracle purchased Crosswise — a developer of technology for people identification across different devices — for  $50 million. Also, Ping Identity was acquired from the private firm Vista Equity Partners for $600 million. Ping Identity is a venture-backed provider of identity management, as well as of single sign-on tools.
Private entity acquirers buy identity management companies to sell them after a few years and hence close profitable deals. Venture firms also invested in identity management. According to Crunch base data, companies in the field raised more than $200 million in 2016. The most popular fields of interest of acquirers are the healthcare IT and authentication.
Studies show that in the US, up to 440,000 patients are harmed from medical errors that can also contribute to their death. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US and they can be prevented if healthcare and identity management engage in a positive collaboration. Many of the cases are connected to digital technology, which shows the importance of lowering the gap between technology and healthcare. ECRI, a non-profit organisation on patient safety published their 2016 list of top ten patient safety concerns for healthcare organisations. Number one concern on the list was “health IT configurations and organisational workflow that do not support each other”. Second on the list was “patient identification errors”, which have broad implications for patients through their stay and affect their post-acute care.
Even though there is a clear necessity of delivering quality with the right tools, some companies did not deliver on investor expectations. Jumio, a start-up that provided digital ID verification, filed for bankruptcy in 2016, after raising more than $35 million in venture funding. On the other hand, Okta, a provider of identity tools for enterprises has raised over $200 million from venture funding and said that is considering an initial public offering this year.
Recently, Imprivata, the healthcare security company partnered with Connected Technology Solutions (CTS) with a goal to facilitate positive patient identification and self-service registration kiosks.
According to Ponemon Institute’s 2016 National Patient Misidentification Report, 64 per cent of top-level healthcare executives and care providers across the US, say that “patient misidentification identification errors happens frequently or all the time at a health care facility”, and that these errors are most likely to happen at the registration desk. Therefore, Imprivata has a goal to eliminate patient identification errors by allowing hospitals to identify patients through their palm vein biometric identification platform, instead of manual input of patient data or verifying medical information.
Craig Richardville, Chief Information and Analytics Officer at Carolinas Healthcare System said, “Since deploying our palm vein biometric identification platform, we have significantly reduced registration errors and lowered our duplicate medical record rate to 0.01 per cent of our patient census, which is 80 times better than the national average.”
“Now that we’re able to integrate this technology directly into our registration kiosks, we expect increased improvement in our front-end patient registration process, which will further enhance our overall revenue cycle management operation and patient experience,” he added.
Connected Technology Solution (CTS) is a leader in the kiosk industry with specifically designed kiosk units for patients to check-in. The process reduces errors, improves insurance validation and helps hospitals improve efficiency. Marc Avallone, Vice President of Sales and Business Development at CTS said that “The use of biometric identification at registration kiosks is a great addition to our solutions and helps transform the entire registration and intake process, working directly with the Epic EHR,” adding that “Integrating Imprivata PatientSecure palm-vein biometrics with our kiosks has sped up the patient identification process and assures positive patient identification every time. This improves patient safety, overall registration throughput, and ultimately enhances the entire patient experience.”
Reducing patient identification mistakes, identity theft and improving patient safety systems are beyond necessary for the sake of patients and hospitals. Besides raising capital, there is the real need of working on an issue that will save thousands of lives.