How Can Biometrics Benefit the Healthcare Industry Today

Ashley H

Challenges to the Healthcare Industry Today

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the healthcare industry today is that of protecting the sensitive information they have been entrusted with. Up to 96% of healthcare service providers have reported a breach in their security systems. Identity theft is a worldwide issue and with the compiling of huge swathes of people’s information online, this data has never been more vulnerable.

Australia alone suffered a loss of $2.1 billion in 2016 as a direct result of identity crimes, with rates of identity theft only increasing from that point on. However, identity fraud can also have long reaching implications that extend beyond the financial repercussions. 35% of surveyed victims of identity theft reported they had been refused credit, 15% were denied access to government benefits and 10.5% were wrongly accused of a crime.

Cases of Medical Identity Fraud

Identity thieves are capable of using medical information to commit all sorts of criminal offenses. Theft of prescription drugs is possible with the right information, which can then either be sold or used to make illegal drugs. Fake billings can be created and duplicate claims for insurance theft can also occur with stolen medical information, affecting both the patients and medical facilities themselves. And perhaps sader still, in some countries where medical procedures can be too expensive for the average person to afford, medical identities have been stolen to undergo medical procedures and treatments.

In a study conducted in 2015 on medical identity fraud 79% of respondents felt it was important for their healthcare providers to ensure the privacy of their health records. Another 48% said they would consider changing healthcare providers if their medical records were lost or stolen. Illustrating that safeguarding medical information and identities is now more important for patients and medical facilities than ever before.

Unfortunately the older and more traditional forms of securing sensitive information are far from infallible. Physical key cards can easily be misplaced or lost, and used to access places and information which should be accessible only to a select few. And from a digital perspective, password and security questions have shown to be an even higher theft risk, with hackers easily accessing publicly available information such as names, dates of birth and emails to procure passwords.

As a result, pioneers in the security sector have begun to utilise biometric technologies as a means of securing correct identification. The opportunities biometric security present for the healthcare industry promise to radicalise the way medical information is stored and accessed.

Biometrics in Healthcare

Biometric security measures such as fingerprint scanning, facial recognition and liveness technology is now being used to authenticate and protect people’s identities. Each individual has unique characteristics and features which make them next to impossible to impersonate. This is then paired with Liveness technology which ensures that the image or movement is from a real person instead of just a photo or video. This combination of cutting edge technologies make committing identity theft next to impossible.

Biometric technologies can ensure that access to medical records is entrusted to those who need it. Staff members can be verified instantly and granted access to only the information they should have access to.

For those who need vital medical attention and are unable to produce traditional forms of identification, or cannot verify who they are verbally, such as unconscious patients, biometric identification can ensure that the correct medical history is located and procedures and treatments can be applied safely in the knowledge that they will do no harm.

In the past, those who have had to undergo medical procedures had to submit to rigorous manual identification processes to ensure they are who they say they are before receiving treatments and pain medication. Physical patient tagging is also not foolproof, with administration errors leading to patients being assigned incorrect medical records, resulting in the application of inappropriate treatments. With biometric verification, these processes can be streamlined and perfected to ensure no identity fraud can take place and that people receive timely treatment.

Ultimately biometric technologies are paving the way for a more secure healthcare industry across the world. Medical facilities that are already using biometric identification technologies are ensuring the confidentiality of sensitive client information, are confident they are delivering safe and reliable patient care, while also safeguarding themselves against the consequences that identity theft can incur.