The healthcare industry has historically been laggard, relying heavily on in-person experiences and a paper-based infrastructure that is difficult to maneuver and modernize. However, social distancing requirements brought on by the pandemic caused the demand for virtual and digital healthcare options to skyrocket. As a prime example, stakeholders throughout the healthcare system were forced to quickly move to telemedicine, previously underutilized as a channel of care.
Since healthcare’s digital adoption was catalyzed by Covid-19, it could be considered a small silver lining that the necessity helped drive technological innovation to meet new demands and better serve patients.
Taking a Highly Regulated Industry From In-Person to Digital
Yet, with such evolution comes new challenges and opportunities.
The connectivity that makes telemedicine possible also opens the door to risk. By nature, telemedicine comes with unique privacy and security risks that criminals find enticing. Sensitive patient data is in high demand on the dark web, with medical records going for as much as $1,000 each. When records are compromised, they’re often used to carry out crimes such as illegally obtaining prescription medications, committing identity theft or filing fake medical claims.
To put it lightly, delivering the convenience and flexibility of telehealth amid surging fraud attacks in an industry in which data privacy is paramount is no walk in the park. So, how are the innovators helping healthcare providers to deftly provide a friction-free healthcare experience while protecting themselves and patient information? Taking compliance also into consideration, it’s a tall order.
While other industries have placed a strategic importance on identity verification as part of successful digital onboarding, most healthcare providers are navigating digital care for the first time, relying on the innovators to pave the way. They’re learning that verifying patient identities is a critical first step in data protection and that they must strike a healthy balance between delivering seamless patient experiences and reducing fraud risk.
Removing Friction from the Digital Patient Experience
While telemedicine has the potential to benefit patients of every age, providing a seamless experience isn’t exactly easy for providers. The process must be simple enough for a digital newbie, such as a senior citizen who may not use technology often, and also seamless enough for those who are tech-savvy and want to quickly get to the end result.
Regardless of a patient’s comfort level with technology, removing unnecessary steps during the identity verification process is the beginning of a positive digital experience. In essence, it makes patient onboarding simpler and faster for all.
Research confirms that identity verification is the number one challenge businesses face in addressing fraud. Implement too many controls and the identity verification process becomes too cumbersome. On the other hand, a lack of controls opens the door to fraud. This dilemma holds equally true within the healthcare industry, where the stakes—protection of private patient data—are even higher.
It’s likely that most patients won’t return to in-person care if they can get the same results virtually. This makes it critical to ensure that the right identity verification tools and processes are in place to help providers secure healthcare records to facilitate trust and deliver quality care in the safest, most frictionless manner.
Technology Advances Provide the Best of Both Worlds: Seamless and Secure
Through advances in today’s technology, telehealth providers are overcoming the dueling challenge of friction vs. fraud detection. In contrast to basic identity proofing and data matching, which are no longer sufficient, identity verification technology that runs in the background can quickly locate, match and authenticate legitimate patients with less friction. Identity verification solutions that utilize smart layers of identity attributes, analyze a wide range of identity characteristics and do the hard work behind the scenes so additional authentication methods are used only when necessary can allow providers to quickly verify legitimate patients.
In particular, a hybrid approach that combines machine learning with human intelligence for identity verification is gaining popularity for giving telemedicine providers data feedback and transparency into decisioning. A dedicated team of fraud experts layered on top of machine learning goes beyond simply verifying a patient and provides closed-loop verification feedback that explains why a certain decision was made during the verification process. Any individual attributes that require a second look are flagged for review. With this data transparency and feedback, the engine will get smarter, capture fraud that may have gotten through and improve its process. This is especially helpful in discovering novel fraud schemes. At the end of the day, providers can approve more legitimate patients and keep more criminals out.
What Lies Ahead
Now and in the future, identity verification is incredibly important for safe, effective telemedicine. As the popularity of digital healthcare only continues to grow, the innovative entrepreneurs who balance all factors of the ‘consumer’ patient experience will find the highest adoption. And with that adoption must come the ability to provide a streamlined, safe and effective experience as a key differentiator for providers, enabling them to establish patient trust and long-term loyalty while also achieving revenue and business growth.
Photo: Khanisorn Chaokla, Getty Images