The term “social distancing” otherwise a relatively unknown phrase just 12 months ago is now one of the top searches on Google. The healthcare industry has been forced to rethink their entire practice due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They have had to quickly adopt digital technology such as artificial intelligence, precision medicine and telehealth services to create touchless options for checking and onboarding patients. And as this “touchless” form of healthcare becomes the new norm, adopting a digital streamlined approach for patient onboarding is imperative for the survival of society.
Read more about what Acuant CEO Yossi Zekri had to say on the topic recently in Healthcare IT Today.
Deploying Digital Identity Solutions in Healthcare is Long Overdue — With the Current Crisis, It Is More Critical Than Ever
The healthcare industry in the United States faces many challenges including mountains of paperwork, fluctuating policies, payment structures and a bureaucratic process that can do more damage than good. All of this is further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to mandated social distancing and limited non-essential office visits. The response has been a massive investment into and the adoption of digital technology such as artificial intelligence, precision medicine and an uptick in telehealth usage creating “touchless” options for onboarding patients. As the healthcare system makes this rapid evolution to embrace digital transformation, the benefits – and incentives for adopting a more streamlined approach—are more apparent than ever before.
The onboarding of patients presents a prime example. This process is typically overburdened by redundant forms, the need to repeatedly present documents for identity and insurance requirements and other requests for information already on file somewhere in the system. The difficulties are compounded with poor record management, human error, and security of personally identifiable information (PII). And when circumstances require that this process be done remotely, the challenge is ten-fold. How can patient identity be collected, verified, and kept secure?
The case to automate secure data capture & identity verification
Digital Identity solutions allow healthcare officials and institutions to streamline and improve the onboarding process by eliminating extraneous paperwork, but it goes beyond cutting down on paperwork. Streamlining the intake process boosts efficiency by drastically cutting down on potential for human error during intake, reducing labor costs and time spent on rejected insurance claims owed to wrong or missing information, and can even prevent patient mismanagement and healthcare fraud.
Healthcare providers should take a page from the Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations adopted by the financial services industry. This practice verifies that the customer is who he or she claims to be, confirms that they are not on any prohibited watch lists, and assesses their general risk factors. This practice would afford medical offices, clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies with the ability to establish a trusted patient identity for administering care and ongoing treatment.
These verification checks, including document authentication and facial recognition match, can be added on to validate patient identity in one seamless workflow. Facial recognition can then be used to login to patient portals and even while administering care to prevent patient mismanagement. Automating the intake process enhances the operational efficiency, security, and the patient experience.
With proper affirmative consent, patient data can be remotely captured from medical insurance cards and government issued IDs. The patient’s electronic health record (EMR) is quickly auto populated with both data and images to keep accurate records. Institutions should look for solutions that are privacy minded, engaging encryption, cryptography and other data privacy measures to thwart data breaches and minimize hacking threats.
The need to protect customers and the industry from fraud
The combination of fear, loosened health care regulations, and expected stimulus payments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic could unleash a surge of health care scams and fraud. It is no secret that the healthcare industry has been under fire by fraudsters who have used consumer facing scams and payer facing fraud schemes – both successfully and unsuccessfully – for years. Healthcare fraud in the U.S. approaches $300 billion annually. Implementing stronger protection for physician portals and EMRs and utilizing authenticating technologies easily diminishes the potential for identity theft and thereby returns money for the good of public health.
When a patient’s identity and privacy are compromised, not only do they suffer financial fallout, but the industry has to deal with the fraudulent claims and any legal fees they incurred because of the initial theft. This can tarnish a business’s reputation and it is critical to healthcare’s success to have a standardized, streamlined flow of patient information—one that includes identity safeguards.
Having the power to verify patient identity allows hospitals and other practices to confirm that any given record is accurate and up to date. It also provides the necessary peace of mind to know that their patient data is not being used by malicious hackers or fraudsters. With identity verification solutions, medical professionals can protect customer information from falling into the wrong hands, but also ensure that medical records and health data are accurate. Errors in patient data could jeopardize future treatments and healthcare financial limits.
The demand for mobile and contactless healthcare experiences
During this pandemic and likely forever more, it is critical to have an effective method of treating patients virtually. Concerns of virus spread have significantly cut down in-office visits and going forward the need to decrease personal contact will likely increase. When doctors can recall patient information at a moment’s notice, it enhances the quality of their care, and their ability to interact with patients – no matter where they are. This also applies to patient care in non-traditional settings, such as specialized pharmacy administration and home health care.
Mobile identity solutions create a sense of self-sufficiency that many patients may prefer. With tablets and kiosk systems, patients can handle their own registration and check-in. This is another contributing factor to lowering labor costs and improving the patient experience. Self-service streamlines the registration process by further automating the input and recall of patient information while reducing errors.
That fact that digital identity solutions in healthcare have been rushed in by the current crisis is clear. But they are here to stay, and this is an opportunity to make much needed advancements. We have witnessed the impact of drive thru testing and the great response and need for more telehealth options that offer convenience and safety. These options can be made secure and provide the operational efficiency needed by institutions, while providing a better experience for all.
Learn more about Acuant Health