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Elizabeth Kokoszka

Senior Business Analyst

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Sep 17, 2020

Digital Identity Protects Patients and Reduces Costs

We are all familiar with the standard check-in process when you visit your doctor. You wait in line for a customer service representative to check your identification and insurance information. You need to verify your date of birth and answer a number of questions. The process is rarely seamless. Information can be misheard. Data can be manually entered incorrectly.

This verification process is, surprisingly, the same for telemedicine, which has seen a rapid rise in utilization due to COVID-19. Despite the visit being virtual, the check-in process is manual and subject to the same human error.

It is well-known that these verification methods are outdated and result in misidentifications, data breaches, and medical identity theft. These risks will only increase as the digital transformation of healthcare accelerates and more healthcare transactions move online.

A frictionless, clear, and secure approach to providing identification is needed to increase efficiency, security, and patient satisfaction in the digital age. Fortunately, advances in technology and the growing adoption of digital identity solutions are making it possible to fight fraud and provide excellent patient care.

Creating Frictionless Registration

COVID-19 has led to a rapid shift in the way patients access care, including the adoption of telehealth and remote check-in. Patients are increasingly connected to technology and comfortable with biometric authentication, such as fingerprint ID and facial recognition to access their applications and data. These changes allow us to reimagine the patient intake and identity verification processes and make improvements for patients and organizations alike.

Digital identity simplifies the registration process by allowing patients to verify their identity via a smartphone or computer and electronically transmit demographic and insurance data directly to a provider’s system.

As this process is instant and automated, it improves patient satisfaction and reduces data entry errors. No more lines. No more miscommunications. No more mistakes.

Digital identity also provides transparency for the patient, allowing them to be the sole owner and controller of their information and to select only the information they would like to share. And because digital identity utilizes sophisticated technology, such as biometrics, it helps prevent medical identity theft, which is a significant issue in healthcare. One in four consumers reported medical identity theft, according to a 2017 Accenture survey. As more and more patients access healthcare online, there is a critical need for an effective means of digital identity verification.

Solutions are on the Way

The financial services sector has demonstrated that digital identity can be quickly adopted and deployed to meet consumer and regulatory demands. Over the last decade, the financial services sector has undergone a significant digital transformation as customers move to online banking and e-commerce has exploded in popularity.

For example, HSBC allows customers to verify their ID and proof of address using biometrics, eliminating the need to go into a bank branch.

Large global players are also exploring solutions needed in this digital identity opportunity. In 2019, Mastercard published a comprehensive vision paper on digital identity defining a clear vision and principals required to establish trust in an increasingly digital world.

Digital identity solutions are being utilized by the public sector, too. In Colorado, the state government is issuing digital driver’s licenses. As companies and governments modernize identity verification, it’s essential that healthcare keeps up and makes this shift, too.

Definitive Identification Protects Patients

Patient identification is essential to providing patients with safe care and accurate billing. Despite the importance of proper identification, the process of manually identifying patients is error prone and results in frequent mistakes. An analysis by RAND showed that nearly eight percent of patient records are duplicates. The percentage is even higher for larger health systems.

Incorrect patient identification can have serious consequences for a patient’s health and treatment, including incorrect care and duplicative testing. An ECRI report showed that while most incorrect patient identifications were caught early, about nine percent of the errors led to temporary or permanent harm to the patient, or even death.

Patient-Centered Technology

Healthcare is not immune to consumers’ adoption of technological solutions. Patients increasingly interact with their care team online, and they want a frictionless and private experience. To truly embrace online healthcare — and provide patients with a convenient and intuitive online experience — the industry must deploy digital identity solutions.

The need for a digital, patient-centric model of care has been recognized by Congress and the federal government. In March, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released the 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program Final Rule, which supports the ability for patients to securely and conveniently access their health record electronically. Digital identity solutions will make it possible to realize this goal.

Coordination Improves Financial Outcomes

Aside from the significant benefits to patients, reducing identification errors will lead to significant cost savings. A study conducted by Children’s Health Dallas estimated that each duplicate medical record costs the organization $96 to correct. Additionally, the average hospital loses $17.4 million each year due to denied claims related to misidentification, according to a report by the Ponemon Institute.

Rising to the Challenge

The need for immediate and accurate identity verification is more important than ever. As healthcare undergoes a digital transformation — which has increased the focus on the cost of care and patient outcomes — implementing digital identity solutions is not only a natural fit, it is a necessary one. Digital identity offers us the opportunity to build trust and fundamentally change the industry by making identity verification common, quick, and seamless.

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