If you live in the US, you pretty much know about medical identity theft. Chances are that someone you know has been a victim of it. It’s not surprising really – more patient records have been compromised in 2019 compared to the previous three years combined. While the US healthcare system battles against its biggest challenge yet (read: COVID-19), it cannot afford to overlook other critical issues such as medical identity theft. Health systems and hospitals are already facing billions in losses – many hospitals have already closed down, laid-off employees, or are furloughing them. However, many healthcare providers are ensuring medical identity theft protection, and thus, are saving significant costs. Let’s explore what medical identity theft is, how it affects everyone involved, and how caregivers can prevent it by using RightPatient.
Medical identity theft in a nutshell
Medical identity theft refers to a fraudster using a patient’s information to illegally obtain healthcare services, drugs, medical devices, or make false claims. There are many ways that it could happen – let’s see the most common one.
Healthcare data breaches are extremely common – and for good reason. Stolen patient records can sell for up to $1,000 on the black market! Thus, hackers are constantly coming up with new strategies to attack hospitals and health systems and steal as much patient data as possible.
After stealing the patient information, fraudsters looking for patient records buy them off the black market. Healthcare is quite expensive in the US, thus, they see this as a cheaper alternative and go for it, even though it’s illegal.
When the fraudsters assume the identities of the victims and present themselves as the patients, if there is no proper patient identity matching platform in place, hospital officials would not have any easy way to determine if they are actually patients or fraudsters. After all, they do have access to all the credentials of the victims. Thus, medical identity theft takes place.
How it affects everyone involved
As previously mentioned, healthcare data breaches are one of the most common data breaches in the US now. Let’s see what are the problems associated with it.
It costs patients heavily. Imagine if you suddenly get a bill that you’ve used thousands of dollars worth of medical services – whereas you haven’t even visited your healthcare provider in a while. That’s how the patients are usually are notified that they have become victims of medical identity theft.
Apart from financial costs, medical identity theft costs patients, insurance providers, and the hospital a considerable amount of time and energy to rectify the issue and figure out the services used by the fraudster, among other things. If this isn’t done, then it leads to an entirely different problem.
Since the fraudster has used the victim’s identity, it naturally means that the fraudster’s preferences will get recorded in the patient’s medical record. Thus, there is patient data integrity failure. This severely impacts patient safety if undetected. Think about it – if a patient is unaware that he/she is a victim of medical identity theft, then the patient will be using the compromised patient record for healthcare services which is now contaminated with the fraudster’s information such as allergies, medications, medical history, and so on.
Finally, healthcare providers also suffer due to medical identity theft. Litigation costs, lawsuits, loss of goodwill, reduced number of patients due to lack of confidence are just some of the many problems faced by caregivers – leading to avoidable costs as well as losses. Medical identity theft protection is, therefore, a must – for both protecting patients and caregivers’ financials.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, providers are already suffering from a huge financial strain. They need to cut down avoidable costs – one of which is medical identity theft. If they ensure medical identity theft protection, they can mitigate significant costs.
RightPatient ensures medical identity theft protection
It was previously stated that medical identity theft is closely tied to patient identification. If a caregiver can accurately identify the patient at the point of registration, it can prevent medical identity theft.
That’s exactly what RightPatient does. It is a photo-based, touchless biometric patient identification used by the leading healthcare providers.
Whenever a patient schedules an appointment, they receive an email or SMS to ensure patient identity validation. This process requires them to provide a selfie as well as a photo of their driver’s license. RightPatient automatically matches the selfie with the photo on the driver’s license to ensure an accurate match. New patients are provided with biometric credentials when they try it for the first time.
During inpatient visits, the registered patient needs to look at the camera with which RIghtPatient locks the medical record. Thus, whenever a fraudster comes and tries to assume the patient’s identity, the platform will red-flag the individual and protect the patients from harm, providing medical identity theft protection. It is also an entirely touchless experience, something which is a huge concern due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leading healthcare providers have been using RightPatient for years and have ensured that patients are protected from medical identity theft. Other than that, it avoids duplicate records creation, reduces denied claims, and enhances patient safety by avoiding preventable medical errors.