Among the many aspects of daily life impacted by Covid-19 was healthcare. A critical need, access to medical care was altered when people everywhere were quarantined to their homes. For many, telemedicine became a critical path to safely accessing care and demand for virtual healthcare services soared. It’s easy to understand why the number of consumers relying on telemedicine skyrocketed to 46 percent in 2020, an 11 percent increase from the previous year.
Although facilities have begun providing in-person healthcare again, the growing popularity of telemedicine isn’t expected to dwindle. Eighty-three percent of patients say they are likely to continue using telemedicine and it’s estimated that up to $250 billion of current US healthcare spending could eventually shift to virtual.
This is great news for companies like Secure Medical, a provider of advanced telemedicine products and services since 1998. However, telemedicine also comes with challenges. Safely delivering the convenience and flexibility of telehealth amid the growing volume of cyber fraud attacks requires extra steps to protect sensitive patient data and minimize fraud risk. At the same time, the consumer-driven world we live in demands a patient experience that is fast and easy. We recently sat down with Kyle Rao, founder and president of Secure Medical, to get his perspective on how the company balances customer experience and fraud deterrence to make telemedicine a success.
You’ve provided telemedicine for nearly a decade. What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered along the way?
In the early years, our process for identifying patient identities was cumbersome. Patients were required to fax, mail or electronically submit identification documents. This created significant setbacks because our physicians required documentation before communicating with the patient. Once we had the documents in hand, we cross-checked the address on the patient’s ID with the billing address on their credit card. If the addresses didn’t match, the patient was required to submit additional information, which made the process even longer. Needless to say, we didn’t have a good system in place.
We also had a problem with rising chargeback fraud, which happens when consumers deliberately steal from merchants by claiming legitimate purchases are fraudulent. The people committing chargeback fraud were becoming more brazen and, in many cases, would provide all the correct information, which checked out during our verification process, and still commit the fraud. It was as if they were unaffected by the consequences of committing a crime.
Those are significant challenges. How did you overcome them?
We knew the path forward required us to find a way to digitally verify patient identities and ensure onboarding was both secure and fast. We needed to prevent patients from using stolen data, ensure prescriptions ended up in the right hands and, at the same time, deliver an outstanding patient experience. As a healthcare provider, it’s also critical that we maintain compliance with industry regulations, protect our contracted physicians and reduce risk for the business.
We discovered IDology in 2008 and right away, it eliminated friction and accelerated our onboarding process. IDology does the heavy lifting for us by analyzing multiple layers of identity attributes like location, activity, device and email, to validate patient identities. Behind the scenes, it uses thousands of data sources to locate and identify individuals, which allows us to verify multiple aspects of a patient’s risk profile while removing effort and enhancing their experience.
With IDology verifying identities in the background, we’ve eliminated the long process of submitting documentation before a physician consult. We only escalate to another form of verification when IDology flags a patient. Today, onboarding legitimate patients is seamless and IDology ensures anything suspicious is put to the test. I can’t see why a telemedicine provider would put a patient through the trouble of submitting documentation when the process can be this secure and simple.
You mentioned compliance is critical for Secure Medical. How do you maintain compliance in a digital environment?
Having a reliable identity verification platform and process in place certainly helps us maintain compliance and protect personal health information (PHI). We require customers to verify their IDs using the IDology platform, in addition to confirming key identification information. Any inaccuracies are handled directly with the patient and their provider. Our security is fortified with a multi-layered approach to patient identity verification.
Recently, a government regulator employed to test the security services of online telemedicine providers attempted to place a prescription order as a minor. IDology flagged the patient and alerted us that we should escalate to another form of verification. I know of other providers that have had their merchant accounts revoked with major credit card companies because they failed a similar test.
Additionally, our card fraud has decreased drastically and IDology has saved us millions in chargebacks. After implementing IDology, nearly all of our credit card fraud and attempted identity theft dropped and our chargeback rate decreased from 1 percent to .013 percent, almost immediately.
What does the future hold for telemedicine and Secure Medical?
Today, over one million consumers have used our services for safe, secure and discreet physician consultation services and FDA-approved medications through websites including HealthyMale.com and instant telemedicine healthcare through OurDoctor.com. This year,
we will launch RXbid.com, a premium solution for pharmaceutical partners to provide affordable medication prices for everyone. Frictionless and secure identity verification will play a critical role in growing our business.
Today and in the future, identity verification is incredibly important for safe, effective digital patient care. As the popularity of telemedicine grows and new players enter the market, the ability to provide a streamlined, safe and effective experience will be a key differentiator for Secure Medical. Without IDology, it would be impossible to establish the level of patient trust and long-term loyalty that is driving revenue and helping grow our business.