Fraud prevention will push growth in healthcare biometrics

The need to combat fraud and protect medical information will serve as a catalyst for significant growth in healthcare biometrics industry, a market projected to reach $5 billion globally by the year 2020, according to a report released by Biometrics Research Group Inc.

The report says that a "fragmented health insurance regime" makes the U.S. health system susceptible to fraud. Although it's impossible to pin down precise dollar figures associated with healthcare fraud, the report notes that estimates range from $75 or $250 billion, or 3 percent to 10 percent of total healthcare expenditures. Much of that is never recovered. Last year, the government recovered $5.7 billion in false claims judgments and settlements.

Fraud schemes are frequently executed using stolen medical information obtained through cybersecurity hacks. This month, Anthem announced a hack had exposed personal information of 80 million members, which opened up multiple avenues for healthcare fraud. Last week, in the wake of the Anthem hack, NPR explored the black market of medical information and found one dealer selling 10 Medicare numbers for approximately $4,700.

"The deleterious effects of healthcare fraud and system inefficiency are therefore driving the deployment of biometric security solutions in the sector," the research report stated.

By using facial, ocular and fingerprint recognition software, biometrics eliminates the need for passwords, PIN numbers and a central database that is vulnerable to cyberattacks, the report pointed out. Although biometric systems can be expensive, the report added that healthcare IT executives find that resetting password and managing PIN numbers are accompanied with small, recurring costs that add up over time.

report recently published by Transparency Market Research indicated that global healthcare biometrics market growth would be even larger, expanding from a $1.2 billion industry in 2012 to $5.8 billion in 2019. New biometrics technology could offer better security for health information, FierceHealthPayer: AntiFraud previously reported.

For more:
- here's the Biometrics Research Group report
- read the NPR story
- read the Transparency Market Research report