The convergence of technology and medicine has made healthcare services more accessible and convenient. With widespread adoption of computers and mobile devices, telemedicine allows patients to receive clinical evaluation and care remotely. While some patients were already using remote health services before the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has surged in the US during this global health crisis. Statista’s recent report revealed that remote care jumped from a 2% usage among US patients before COVID-19 to 61% during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has also led to many Americans avoiding well-care appointments and hospital visits out of fear that they might get infected with the dreaded COVID-19 disease. The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography & Intervention (SCAI) ‘s recent findings revealed that about 61% of patients think they might contract the novel Coronavirus in a hospital. Even when urgent medical issues arise, many still do not want to seek treatment in a healthcare facility. SCAI continues in their report that about 52% of patients are more afraid of catching the virus than experiencing a heart attack or stroke.
With many people remaining wary of in-person hospital appointments, remote medical care is an ideal solution to abate this fear. With greater adoption of telemedicine, identity fraud and account takeover become increasing threats to the healthcare system. Criminals are always looking for opportunities to breach systems, steal sensitive patient data, and commit other fraudulent acts. They often look to take advantage of weak identity authentication processes in remote care systems.
To ensure that only genuine patients access services, medical providers must shore up their digital identity verification and identity document authentication solutions. These institutions need to effectively prove the veracity of a patient’s claimed identity and validate the authenticity of the patient’s provided credentials’ legitimacy, without requiring in-person identification.
The Challenges in Remote Identity Verification for Telemedicine
With the remote nature of telemedicine, proving the legitimacy of a patient’s identity can be challenging. Medical institutions expect their patients to provide accurate information about themselves and their medical conditions to ensure that the patient receives proper treatment. Before COVID, medical providers asked patients to present their driver’s license and a cursory review by the medical receptionist allowed the patient to receive treatment. Some urgent-care facilities were moving to palm biometrics to allow patients to authenticate their identity. Now with limited face-to-face medical appointments and inadequate digital identity verification practices, fraudsters can easily infiltrate healthcare systems to access services and records to which they are not entitled.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Journal states that healthcare data breaches have risen significantly since 2009. In 2019, over 230 million healthcare records in the US, representing approximately 70% of the United States population, were breached.
With stolen medical data, fraudsters can easily impersonate the true patient to access insurance benefits, obtain prescription medicine, and take advantage of other medical-related services that can be acquired using a patient’s personally identifiable information (PII). Medical identity theft not only entails losses but also compromises the health of the real patient as the fraudster’s data can mix with the victim’s health record.
Healthcare institutions must adopt advanced digital identity verification technology that effectively validates a patient’s identity and authenticates their ID documents to ensure that patients are who they claim to be.
Protecting Remote Patient Sensitive Data
Telemedicine providers must adhere to HIPAA standards for protecting the privacy and security of patient medical records and other healthcare transactions. They must ensure that only the legitimate patient and authorized health workers can access sensitive health data.
According to World Bank, digital technology can contribute significantly to the protection of medical identities and the improvement of instant healthcare services. While HIPAA does not obligate the use of certain technologies, it is up to medical institutions to leverage modern solutions to safeguard their system while remaining HIPAA-compliant.
The Need for Robust Digital Identity Verification
Health service providers often require patients to submit valid IDs as an effective way of identifying patients. Most government-issued credentials contain adequate information about an individual that can help verify the data they provided to a medical institution. Moreover, matching a patient’s facial modalities to a photo on valid identity documents serves as strong evidence that they are the legitimate identity owner.
Telemedicine services can authenticate their patients with modern identity proofing solutions like facial biometric technology. Facial biometrics can easily be integrated into mobile devices, reducing the need for in-person verification or expensive hardware. Patients can quickly use their camera-enabled digital device to take a selfie and capture a photo of their identity document.
Mobile facial biometrics should also deploy anti-spoofing features to catch fraudsters who are trying to cheat the authentication process. Solutions should perform a liveness check, such as asking the individual to smile, move their head, or blink to determine a real person’s presence at the time of verification.
Furthermore, automated identity document authentication should utilize trusted data sources such as government registries to determine a provided credential’s authenticity. For example, a driver’s license can be authenticated by comparing the ID to a database of known specimen documents and checking if it has genuine driver’s license’s security features.
By conducting these identity verification processes, remote medical care providers are assured that they are interacting with legitimate patients.
Ongoing Need for Remote Identity Proofing Technology In Healthcare
Even after the pandemic, telemedicine is expected to retain regular patients who want to opt for remote services instead of in-person medical consultations. Statista predicts that about 19% of the US population will continue to rely on telemedicine after the COVID-19 health crisis. This usage—while lower than the current pandemic rate—is still significantly higher than the 2% figure recorded prior to COVID-19.
Medical institutions will need to continually enhance their ability to deliver healthcare remotely, in a way that helps them mitigate changing trends in criminal activities. To secure their services, telemedicine providers should adopt a remote ID verification system that helps them streamline operations, reduce fraud, and protect their patients’ sensitive data. Modern identity proofing solutions like biometric technology can improve their security measures, build trust with their patients, and drive revenue.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine rapidly expanded as a convenient and safe way of delivering clinical services to remote patients. With this move to remote care, the health sector is at increasing risk from cybersecurity threats like medical identity theft and fraud. Healthcare institutions must shore up their digital identity verification and identity document authentication processes to ensure that they provide clinical services only to legitimate patients.
Trusted, accurate and speedy patient identity verification is paramount to preventing fraudulent account takeovers and protecting patient sensitive data. Healthcare institutions must adopt a strong identity verification system like mobile biometrics that effectively validates a patient’s identity and ID documents, safeguards their information, and streamlines onboarding processes while maintaining regulatory compliance.
Proof™ by Ipsidy is a mobile facial biometric identity verification solution that utilizes anti-spoofing features and biometric matching of a selfie to verified credentials to mitigate fraudulent attempts. To provide the healthcare sector with the highest level of identity assurance, Proof also offers automated identity document authentication including validation of US and Canadian driver’s licenses.
Schedule a Demo with Ipsidy
Ipsidy Inc. is a provider of an Identity as a Service (IDaaS) platform that delivers a suite of secure, mobile, biometric identity solutions, available to any vertical, anywhere. Ipsidy’s products provide telemedicine providers with robust identity verification and identity document authentication solutions that streamline operations while maintaining security. Contact Ipsidy today at 1 (516) 778-5639 or click here to schedule a demo.