Like a middle-schooler entering the teen years, the modest-sized market for healthcare biometrics is about to embark on a wild, bone-stretching growth spurt.

As far back as 2015 the healthcare industry has been called one of biometrics’ most promising opportunities by the market intelligence firm Tractica. Biometrics Research Group has estimated that the entire global marketplace for biometric solutions in the healthcare market will reach approximately $5 billion by 2020. Alan Goode of Goode Intelligence believes it could reach even $6 billion by that time.

$5B–$6B by 2020

Projected global market size for healthcare biometrics

That’s a mighty stretch from what is generally regarded as a modest market size presently. In 2016 Grand View Research in March estimated the value of the global healthcare biometrics market at $2.1 billion and expects a CAGR of 24.2 percent. Forty percent of the healthcare-biometrics market share in 2016 was held in North America.


(Grand View Research)

What’s driving the growth?

Fraud, largely.

That is to say, the impulse to counter healthcare fraud, if not eliminate it. According to a 2018 review by the Identity Theft Resource Center(R) and CyberScout(R), “the number of U.S. data breaches tracked in 2017 hit a new all-time high of 1,579, up 44.7 percent over last year’s record totals of 1,091 breaches.” The cumulative number of records in all sectors exposed between 2005 and May of this year exceeds 1 billion.

The medical/healthcare sector ranked second in the list of sectors hit last year by data breaches, with 374 breaches (23.7 percent of total breaches). Fifty-nine percent of the breaches were classified as hacking. The top two methods of hacking were phishing attacks and ransomware or malware, according to the review.

If the’s May 2018 report is typical, the number of records exposed by specific breaches is unknown, which could suggest that the estimated cumulative totals are higher. And many of the companies that reported breaches are in the medical or healthcare sector.

The better news is that the medical/healthcare sector, along with the educational sector and government/military sectors, reflected a decrease in the percentage of data breaches from 2016 figures, according to the review.

Breaches = 9,039

Records Exposed = 1,097,531,139

Jan 1, 2005, to May 17, 2018, cumulative totals, all sectors (

Other major market drivers for the growth include potential improvements to home healthcare services, the potential to reduce the risk of pharmaceutical theft, and the aging population in developed countries.

Biometrics Research Group defines “healthcare biometrics” as biometric applications in doctors’ offices, hospitals, or for use in monitoring patients (Biometrics Update 5).

“Biometric technology can add operational efficiencies to the healthcare system that reduce costs and fraud, and increase patient satisfaction by reducing medical errors”  (Biometrics Update 5).

The uses & benefits of biometrics

By now, millions of consumers know the most common types of biometrics, such as fingerprint scanners and facial recognition in smartphones. In healthcare, biometrics are employed in a wide range of settings and are typically used along with passwords or smart ID cards.

Biometrics can effectively reduce healthcare costs, improve customer experience and, perhaps most significantly, combat fraud. Biometrics are reliable, accurate and safe, and patients find them less intrusive than traditional methods of data gathering and verification. Biometrics can prevent duplicate records and “overlays”—when one person’s medical information erroneously enters another person’s medical record. Both problems are manifestations of paperless record keeping.

Biometrics specific to healthcare refers to applications used in doctors’ offices, hospitals, or for use in monitoring patients. These uses can include access control, personal identification, workforce management, or patient record storage (

Access control can apply to physical access, such as to buildings, server rooms, and hospital campuses. It can also apply to logical access, such as to networks, servers, and data. Patient-record storage and controlled access to other sensitive resources can be optimized with biometric applications.

Personal identification is the most common need for biometrics in healthcare. Authentication of the identities of everyone entitled to inhabit a medical campus—doctors, nurses, visitors, contractors, as well as patient identification and tracking, comprise the primary uses of healthcare biometrics. Other uses include document issuance and employee background checks.

Workforce management benefits from the use of biometrics in the form of timekeeping and attendance systems to support management and supervision.

Pharmacy dispensing that employs biometrics can realize maximized efficiencies and possibly eliminate pharmaceutical theft altogether.


As noted by Ashu Kalbande, the healthcare-biometrics market falls generally into  three segments:


    • Fingerprints: The most familiar of all biometrics, fingerprinting was used inconsistently since ancient times. It didn’t gain a scientific footing until 1892 with the publication of Finger Prints by Sir Francis Galton. Galton’s classification systems is still in use today. Today by the use of consumer devices. Fingerprint recognition holds the largest market share, about 40 percent in 2016.
    • Eye scans: Iris recognition and retinal scans are proliferating with use of both stand-alone and mobile devices.
    • Vein recognition (vascular imaging) “measures parts of a subject’s circulatory system which is a s unique to her as a fingerprint. Segmented into different sub-modalities, vascular biometrics solutions use optical scanning technology to capture vein images in your palm, finger, or eyeball,” according to FindBiometrics.
    • Face recognition, particularly using mobile devices
    • Palm-geometry recognition: Three states–Rhode Island, California and Connecticut–in 2004 were the first to deploy palm print databases for use by law enforcement (Source)


  • Voice recognition: Different from speech recognition (which determines what is being said), voice recognition is aimed at identifying who is speaking. It’s a relatively early technology, dating back to the 1980s. Barclay’s introduced voice security technology to all telephone-banking customers in 2016.
  • Behavioral recognition focuses less on preventing cyber crimes than on identifying cybercriminals themselves. It’s not a perfect technology but holds great promise.


  • Electroencephalogram and DNA-based recognition technologies are expected to demonstrate substantial growth through 2025 as well, according to Grand View Research. That’s because bioelectrical brain waves are unique biological features that are devilishly difficult to forge. LIkewise DNA recognition, but these technologies are still nascent.


  • Patient identification
  • Patient monitoring
  • Medical-record management
  • Data security, and others

End Users

  • Hospitals
  • Research laboratories
  • Healthcare institutes, and others

Major Market Players

The biometrics landscape is widening faster than a Hawaiian lava delta.

According to Crystal Market Research major market players include 3M Cogent Inc., BIO-Key International Inc., CROSSMATCH Technologies Inc., Fujitsu, Imprivata Inc., Integrated Biometrics LLC, NEC Corp. of America, and Suprema Inc.

According to the Biometrics Research Group, major market players include BIO-key, GenKey, HID Global, ImageWare, Imprivata (Patient Secure), Intelligent Fingerprinting, Intent Solutions, IriTech, M2SYS/RightPatient, MedixSafe, NextGate, Rx Safes, Safran Identity & Security (Idemia), and Simprints.

Clearly healthcare biometrics is a rapidly growing sector for innovation. tekMountain, an innovation thought leader located in southeastern North Carolina, sees enormous potential for investors and entrepreneurs. We’ll revisit this particular ecosystem in upcoming posts and welcome inquiries into opportunities for your particular endeavor.


This blog was produced by the tekMountain Team of Sean AhlumAmanda Sipes, Kelly Brown and Zach Cioffi with lead writer Bill DiNome


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