The role of biometrics in healthcare digital transformation

Technology is changing every industry in significant ways and healthcare digital transformation is surely an inevitable trend. It’s expected that digital healthcare spending could reach US$206 billion worldwide by 2020, according to Statista. Biometrics is joining the hype in providing patient identification and employee access control solutions. In developed countries, biometric system tackles the chronic medical identity theft issue and at the same time empowering consumers with higher-quality service and experience. While in developing countries, it makes healthcare service more inclusive for citizens and replaces the resource-intensive, fragile and easily manipulated paper-based identity system.

Iris biometric healthcare

According to Financial Cost of Healthcare Fraud report 2015, the current global average loss rate has increased by 10.7% since 2007 to reach $455 billion in 2013 and will continue its upward trend. North America is the leading region in adopting biometric authentication to fight against medical identity theft. Currently, it comprises 70% of the healthcare biometric market. For instance, as of February 2018, more than 150 hospitals and healthcare organizations in the U.S., such as regional blood centers, already use biometrics for patient registration and access control to patients’ health information.

Patients’ biometric data with personal and medical information are collected at the first place. Thanks to the uniqueness nature of biometrics, any duplication will be eliminated. The information can be stored in hospital’s cloud management system which enables doctors to access the information in real time.  With health insurance institutions, this means the reduction of billing fraud by eliminating the sharing of medical insurance cards among patients, or avoiding assumption of another’s identity. To hospitals, biometrics is used for medical examination process such as: blood drawing, blood transfusion, medicine dispensing to ensure patient’s safety and bring the misidentification errors to zero. There have been companies that started to integrate biometrics into automated healthcare system such as medicine dispenser for a smarter and safer way to manage medication. As a result, the workflow efficiency is improved and customer’s satisfaction is increased.

The story is quite different in developing countries while a large number of hospitals and clinics are still using paper-based medical record management. Not to mention that, as many as 1.5 billion people mostly in Africa and Asia do not have an official identity which prevents them from having a proper healthcare services. Deploying biometric system will help build an effective, streamlined healthcare system and assure the right patient will receive the right medicine. Although biometrics is currently at nascent stage in these regions but it’s expected to witness a massive growth thanks to the high demand and significant benefits that it brings.

Biometric healthcare is a promising market and expected to accelerate in the coming years. The global healthcare biometric market is predicted to reach USD 14.5 billion by 2025, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. The demand for technologies to combat identity fraud and the HIPPA regulations to safeguard confidentiality and privacy of patient information are the main drivers contributing to the market growth. Furthermore, with the mobile phone penetration and the growing usage of mobile-Health (mHealth) and Internet of medical things (IoMT) solutions across the globe, biometrics plays a crucial role in protecting wearable devices, their applications and resources. While fingerprint still dominates the market; contactless, non-intrusive and stable biometric modality such as iris recognition will make headway in the healthcare market over the long term.