Telemedicine is experiencing great growth. According to the results of a study from the Medical Center of the University of Rochester, the digital health consultations in the US will exceed the face-to-face consultations in 2024, and by 2025 they will have reached 1.15 billion, a much higher figure than the 0.6 thousand million face-to-face visits that will still be made.

In Spain, according to a report from the IESE business school and Telefónica, 70% of patients and 80% of health professionals would be willing to use telemedicine if it were within their reach, although only 7% of the Doctors and between 3% and 11% of patients, currently use systems of diagnosis and remote assistance of patients.

There have been many projects that have been carried out in hospitals and public health centers in Spain in recent years. One of the Extremadura Health Service, implanted in hospitals, health centers, socio-sanitary, penitentiary and guardianship centers for minors, in which more than 95,000 telemedicine consultations have been carried out since its launch in 2003.

Regarding the private sector, SANITAS healthcare insurance company has been a pioneer offering since last year Sanitas Blua, a digital medical insurance with virtual assistance that allows to be connected with the medical professionals of the entity and perform on-line consultations through videoconferencing. In addition to the videoconferencing service, the new product includes the guarantee of home delivery of medicines and the possibility of performing analytical tests at home.

The good acceptance and growth of telemedicine is a good new for all stakeholders in the healthcare sector, who see the remote management of patients as a powerful tool to improve the patient’s experience, improve the health of the population and reduce the per capita cost of health care. Patients, on the other hand, get more comfort and speed, especially those in rural areas where access to healthcare is more limited.

However, although the benefits for all parties seem clear, health organizations and insurance companies must pay special attention to procedures to verify the identity of the patient when accessing telemedicine services, to prevent medical fraud.

There are potential risks of fraud by medical identity theft in telemedicine patients due to the apparent ease of assuming another person’s identity in these types of applications, which can compromise patient safety and the integrity of medical data.

The digitization of healthcare has led to the creation of a large number of new points of patient contact throughout the continuum of healthcare. The challenge for healthcare organizations and healthcare insurance companies is to use patient identification technology that has the ability to provide unambiguous secure identification and ensure the integrity of medical data no matter where a patient is located along that continuum healthcare and that can be used flexibly at any point of contact, regardless of whether it is virtual or physical.

The only technology that can satisfy the demand for holistic identification of the patient in modern healthcare is biometrics. The use of biometrics for unequivocally secure patient identification offers immediate and sustainable benefits: increased patient safety, reduction of duplicate medical records and elimination of fraud; but what is less visible are the tangential benefits that can be derived from its application to the new points of patient contact in the continuum of medical care that arise.

The reduction of hospital readmissions is an excellent example of the tangential benefit of biometrics. A healthcare organization that uses facial recognition to identify the patient can verify the identity of their patients in their face-to-face visits and have the ability to verify the identity of the patients themselves through a web site or before a digital medical consultation. By unambiguously identifying a patient during a telemedicine session, it is guaranteed that the appropriate and timely treatment is administered that helps reduce the possibility of re-admission and associated extra costs for the healthcare organization.

The use of biometrics for patient identification offers another distinctive advantage to telemedicine: traceability. Healthcare providers have a complete record of which patient accesses telemedicine services and on what date and time they accessed the service.

Healthcare organizations and healthcare insurance companies that implement biometric technologies for patient identification have a clear advantage over those entities that rely solely on less secure methods to verify the identity of patients, such as systems based on the use of cards and passwords.

At UMANICK we are experts in biometric identification systems. Contact us if you want to know more about how to improve the management of the patient’s identity. We will assess which is the most suitable biometric technology for your project and organization.