Importance of biometrics in healthcare

The healthcare system, in the process of transformation to enhance safe, quality and cost contained care, is facing many challenges. The most serious problems that healthcare system is experiencing are medical identity theft, other types of fraud in healthcare services and healthcare insurances. According to Financial Cost of Healthcare Fraud report 2014, the current global average loss rate increased from 5.99% in 2007 to 6.99% in 2011 equal to $487 billion. The recent report from FBI stated that “Health care fraud costs the country tens of billions of dollars a year. It’s a rising threat, with national health care expenditures estimated to exceed $3 trillion in 2014 and spending continuing to outpace inflation”.

The most effective solution to prevent fraud and medical identity theft in healthcare is to strengthen the authentication and minimize the risks of security breaches with the use of biometrics. Biometrics has been becoming the best choice for the healthcare provider to solve fraudulent issues. In recent years, biometrics has been being adopted by various healthcare organizations worldwide to protect health records, facilitate easier access to medical information, and defend health care consumers against frauds. Besides, the rise of interoperable health information databases using biometrics can enable services to simply and regularly administrate the access to medical identity by authorizing access to patient’s records using biometric identity. By linking such information, the patients can be easily identified and connected with their personal medical records providing for specific healthcare services. Hence, the linking between biometrics and electronic health records allows the health organizations to provide more accurate and efficient healthcare services. Since April 2009, the US requires the physicians and healthcare professionals who used electronic health record should check carefully the accessing to the patient’s record. Biometrics allows the physicians to do this easily. By making the records only accessible to someone who is identified by fingerprint, vein or iris, a record can be kept of identity and time accessing the file, and it can be ensured that the person who accessed the file is definitely the one has the right to see a patient’s record. If they mismatch, the appropriate authorities can be notified that unauthorized person is trying to access secure data.

Healthcare biometric market has envisioned a tremendous growth in the past few years. According to ‘Healthcare biometrics market’ report from Transparent Market Research published on September 2013, the fingerprint recognition technology is the most prominently used biometric technology and will make up more than 50% percent of biometrics demand in healthcare industry through 2019. Besides, face and iris recognition are also expected to have rapid growth in term of the demand for logical access control in healthcare services. Currently, North America along with Europe captures more than 75% of the market share. The global healthcare biometrics market which was cost $1.2 billion in 2012 is predicted to rise by 25.9% from 2013 to 2019 with the estimated market value of $5.8 billion in 2019. Healthcare has become one the most attractive markets that many biometrics companies aim to penetrate in including 3M Cogent, Inc., Bio-Key International, Inc., DigitalPersona, Inc., NEC Corporation, M2SYS LLC.

There is no doubt that biometrics has significant potential in health care, in facilitating cost reductions, enhancing information security, increasing the services quality, improving accessibility, and even greater geographic equity of delivery. To push biometric technology into the mainstream identification market, it is important to encourage its evaluation in realistic contexts and foster innovation of inexpensive and user-friendly implementations.