Since the EMV liability shift last October, much has been said about how the little chips in payment cards will help to reduce the amount of card-present fraud when purchasing goods and services in the United States. But can EMV also help to prevent identity fraud in the healthcare industry? There are some experts who believe that answer is “yes.” They believe that not only can EMV offer the same fraud-reducing benefits in healthcare payments as it does to the general public, but it may also enable healthcare to better authenticate patient identification as well as have a huge impact in reducing the estimated $68 billion a year fraud problem within the industry.

By October 1, 2015, merchants in the United States that accept payment cards were encouraged to be compliant with the new EMV rules and have the ability to accept the chip cards, that are read by inserting the card into the terminal rather than swiping it, as with the traditional magnetic stripe cards. According to an article on, 70 percent of Americans currently have EMV payment cards, but only 37 percent of merchants are able to accept them. However, many major retailers have converted their POS systems so they can accept the chip cards, as well as NFC and contactless payments, like Apple Pay and Android Pay. 

Some industry experts believe if EMV cards can reduce card-present payment fraud, then they should be able to do the same thing within the healthcare industry on two fronts – payments and patient identity authentication.  For healthcare payments, Craig Tieken, vice president of product and integrations at TransFirst LLC healthcare, admits that while healthcare providers are often not at the top of fraudsters’ target lists, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a target. Chris Seib, chief technology officer and co-founder of Philadelphia’s InstaMed, a health care payments network, says EMV can also help to enhance the is the consumer/patient experience – adopting some of the payment innovations we’ve seen in consumer commerce and applying them to healthcare.  Seib says, “health care has a lot to learn from Apple Pay, Amazon, and Uber, which have innovated around the consumer experience.” 

Taking it a step further, some industry insiders are looking at using EMV to add patient identification authentication to the payments acceptance infrastructure. According to a white paper by the Smart Card Alliance, merging the two can reduce costs and complexity for providers while also reducing fraud. The paper states that by adopting EMV card security standards, the healthcare industry can help stop fraud. The current standard-based security solutions utilized by EMV cards could create new healthcare workflow automation that leads to real-time payment authorization, increased patient health record security, improved patient identity management and new auditing capabilities. 

Some of the necessary standards needed to implement the use of EMV and contactless payments in the healthcare industry may still be in the development stage, but their adoption can be very beneficial for health care organizations, both in terms of payments and patient identity protection.

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