asking the right questions when researching biometric patient ID solutions

Top 5 Questions For Biometric Patient ID Vendors

understand biometric patient ID options

Learn the top 5 questions to ask when researching biometric patient identification solutions.

Biometric patient ID solution deployments to increase patient safety, eliminate duplicate medical records, and prevent medical ID theft and healthcare fraud are spreading rapidly throughout the healthcare industry. More medical facilities are researching the implementation of biometric patient ID in response to the increased attention and negative downstream impact caused by misidentification and the push to achieve 100% patient ID accuracy in healthcare

While the front end benefits of implementing biometrics for patient identification may be clear, what often may be slightly fuzzy is the back end technology of biometric patient ID systems and just what exactly the technology is actually capable of achieving. Biometric technology is not static, and depending on which modality a medical facility chooses, the ability to achieve some of the aforementioned benefits may be limited.

As a biometric vendor with over 14 years of experience in biometrics, cloud-computing, integration, and large-scale project implementations, we understand the technology and its capabilities and limitations. We know what certain biometric modalities are capable of, and are well positioned to offer educated recommendations on the best and most effective biometric technology for patient identification in healthcare. Unfortunately, many misunderstandings of biometrics exist that could influence decisions to adopt the technology to improve patient safety in healthcare.

Never fear! We are here to help make sense of biometrics for patient ID in healthcare by offering advice on the top 5 questions hospitals and medical facilities should be asking during the research phase of their due diligence to implement the most effective and sustainable solution. Here are our top 5 questions you should ask when researching biometric patient ID solutions:

  1. Does a patient have to physically touch a biometric hardware device to be enrolled and identified?

    Why this is important: 
    Patient hand hygiene is terrible. In fact, Dr. Lona Mody and her research team at The University of Michigan recently released a study that reported: “One-quarter of patients (24.1 percent) had at least one multidrug-resistant organism (MDRO), or superbug, on their hands when they checked in.” 

    Hospitals have a responsibility to ensure the cleanliness of any new devices introduced as part of the patient check-in or care process that require patient contact to support infection control protocols. The rise in awareness of the dangers that hospital-borne infections cause should call into question patient safety issues that contact-dependent biometric pose, especially in light of the dangers that MRSA, Ebola, and other germs and illnesses that can be spread by contact. Think about a patient who may be pregnant and not realize it who contracts an illness that jeopardizes the safety of themeselves and their child simply by touching a device that wasn’t properly cleaned? 

    Implementing contact-dependent biometric hardware requires medical facilities to ensure that the device is properly sanitized. Hospitals who see an average of 350,000 patients per year could be facing an extra $38,000 in sanitation expenses after implementing a contact dependent biometric hardware device. 

    The use of contact dependent biometrics can also have a negative impact on patient acceptance. Patients unwilling to touch a device will most likely decline to use the patient identification system. Since patient acceptance and participation is voluntary and the goal is to maximize their use of the technology to drive incremental value, this should be a concern for medical facilities.

  2. Is the back end biometric technology based on one-to-many or one-to-few segmented searches?

    Why this is important: The only true way to prevent duplicate medical records and tangibly improve patient safety and patient data integrity through a biometric patient identification solution is to implement a system based on a one-to-many (1:N) search. Biometric patient ID systems based on a 1:N search compare a captured biometric template against ALL stored templates in the biometric database during enrollment.

    Alternatively, a one-to-few segmented search (1:Few) compares a captured biometric template against a portion of the total biometric database; hence, a credential (such as date of birth) needs to be provided prior to the biometric scan to determine which templates should be compared against. The biometric system would then compare the captured template against only those templates that share the same birth date.

    This is an extremely important question to ask when vetting biometric patient identification solutions. If the premise of implementing biometrics to identify patients is eliminating duplicate medical records, prevention of medical ID theft, and to improve patient safety, solutions based on a 1:Few search do not have the ability to deliver.

  3. Can the biometric patient ID solution recognize patients from any encounter end point?

    Why this is important: In the old days, healthcare delivery seemed much simpler. You get sick or suffer an ailment and drive to the doctor’s office or hospital. Treatment is rendered. You go home (or rehab if needed). However, modern healthcare and the digitization of care delivery has radically changed the complexion of how, when, and where we receive services. We now have the ability to login into patient portals 24/7 to view, read, or download data. Telemedicine visits allow us to receive care without every leaving the comfort of our couch. mHealth apps place medical advice, care services, and protected health information (PHI) data access in the palm of our hands. 

    These examples represent just a few of the new touchpoints along the care continuum that have blossomed in popularity witnessed by the digitization and personalization of healthcare. Although these examples shed light on the new reality of healthcare, accurate patient identification becomes no less important prior to accessing these new touchpoints. The problem is that not all biometric patient ID solutions have the ability to address accurate patient ID at every new touchpoint. Most are built and designed to handle patient ID in one venue and one venue only – face to face patient registration in brick and mortar environments.

    If achieving accurate patient ID prior to accessing sensitive PHI or administering services through a new touchpoint along the care continuum is just as important as accurate patient identification at the point of service, why would you want to invest in a solution not built on a centralized model for strong identification wherever a patient may be? 

  4. Does the biometric patient ID solution have the ability to instantly identify unconscious patients?

    Why this is important: Many hospitals and medical facilities like the idea that a biometric patient ID solution can identify unconscious or disoriented patients. It’s a big selling point and with good reason — patients who arrive unconscious or disoriented without identification or a family member present pose a serious risk. What if the patient is allergic to a medication? What if they have a pre-existing condition that could adversely affect or complicate treatment rendered?

    Certian biometric patient ID solutions have the unique ability to instantly identify unconscious patients but not unless they use 1:N back end searches (see #2 in this post). When seconds can mean life or death, you may not want to invest in a biometric patient identification solution using 1:Few segmented searches because then clinicians will have to guess a date of birth age prior to scanning the patient’s biometric credentials. Back end search limitations can delay the identification of an unconscious or disoriented patient. 

  5. What age groups are eligible to use the biometric patient identification solution?

    Why this is important: As mentioned earlier, a key metric to drive incremental value for any biometric patient ID solution is patient participation. Depending upon the back end biometric technology, not all patients are qualified to enroll in the system. Some biometric patient ID solutions recommend not to enroll patients under a certain age and others will require a larger investment in hardware to enroll younger patients who must then be repeatedly re-enrolled as they grow older and their biometric attributes change.

    Biometric patient ID systems exist to protect patients from the dangers of misidentification which include, but are not limited to:

    –duplicate medical records
    –medical identity theft
    –healthcare fraud

    Considering the fact that no patient is exempt from the risks that jeopardize their safety when not identified accurately, the post implementation goal should be to maximize patient enrollment, regardless of what age they may be.

    Did you know that children as young as pre-conception are in danger of being medical identity theft victims? Biometric patient identification systems that restrict enrollment based on age are not valuable. This is an important question to ask.

Investing in a biometric patient ID solution is an exercise in educating yourself about what these systems can and cannot accomplish. While no system is perfect or a panacea to solve all the problems of patient misidentificaton, achieveing higher quality healthcare and improving patient safety are attainable goals that can be reached when the right solution is deployed. Be cautious when researching and make sure you are asking these 5 questions! 



Homecare: The World’s Fastest Growing Industry?

The following guest post on homecare was submitted by Be Independent Home Care.

As of now, the US healthcare industry is worth $84 billion and employs 1.7 million people. Employment in homecare as a home health aide is one of the fastest growing occupations in the country, with a growth rate of 38% expected by 2024 from a decade previously. On the basis of those statistics, the industry appears to be thriving.

A further inspection of the full picture, though, shows that even this substantial growth rate might not be enough to keep up with demand. The number of senior citizens in the U.S. is getting larger and larger every single day, with the senior population projected to reach 83 million by the end of this year. Where once there was 11 prospective family caregivers per person in need of care, that ratio could dwindle to four possible caregivers per person in the next 30 years. The days of lay caregiving seem to be coming to an end.

Furthermore, the need is not just for more healthcare professionals to provide the necessary care; the requisite standards of care are growing higher all the time. Healthcare providers and agencies need to meet strict licensing regulations which, while necessary in order to ensure that patients are cared for adequately, will further limit the pool of potential caregivers.

Be Independent Home Care, an Irish provider of one-on-one homecare, has produced this absorbing and thought-provoking infographic on the current state of the healthcare industry and the road down which it is traveling. The demand for healthcare services means that the industry should be booming, but is the supply of qualified healthcare professionals there to meet it?

homecare is a fast growing business and requires accurate patient ID

diabetes and patient safety

Infographic: Defeating the Effects of Diabetes

The following guest post was submitted by Union Quay Medical Centre.

Did you know that approximately 5% of the world’s population suffers from diabetes? This equates to 347 million, which is more than the populations of every country in the world except China and India. In an even more alarming development, the World Health Organization expects that the total number of deaths from diabetes will more than double within the next 10 years.

Union Quay Medical Centre
 in Ireland created this eye-opening infographic about the effects of diabetes. It demystifies a number of common misconceptions about diabetes, outlines symptoms and causes, and also offers helpful advice on how to tackle Type 2 diabetes, which affects 90%-95% of all diabetes sufferers and can be prevented with a series of lifestyle changes.

You may have heard in some quarters that women with diabetes should not get pregnant, or that gestational diabetes will disappear after a woman gives birth. In truth, women who manage diabetes effectively can have a normal childbirth, but gestational diabetes is unfortunately more likely to occur for both mother and child.

Other myths that this infographic hopes to debunk is that people can get off lightly with ‘a little bit’ of diabetes, and that diabetes sufferers cannot donate blood. They can give blood if the diabetes is controlled. As for having ‘a little bit’ of diabetes, this is a total lie. Anyone with the condition stands a high chance of developing further complications.

Read through the infographic below to discover more surprising facts about diabetes, a condition that has sadly become a global epidemic.

Defeating the Effects of Diabetes - Infographic (1)


patient safety

Infographic: What You Need to Know About Stroke

The following patient safety guest post on stroke prevention was submitted by Ireland based Home Care Plus.

Did you know that there are six stroke-related deaths in the world every single minute? Indeed, somewhere on Earth, a person suffers a stroke every two seconds. It is frightening to think of how frequently strokes happen, especially when the likelihood of suffering one can be minimized with just a few simple lifestyle changes.

Home Care Plus, an Irish-based provider of home care services, has created this excellent infographic which provides hugely important information on recognizing the warning signs of stroke, understanding the factors that increase the risk of stroke, and how to provide care for a victim of stroke.

Time is a critical factor in responding to a stroke, so much so that swift, correct action can prove the difference between life and death. If you see somebody with a notable weakness on one side of their body, slurring their speech or finding it difficult to maintain balance, these could be signs of a stroke. Check to see if their face is falling to one side or if one arm is numb, and also ask the person to recite a simple sentence. If one or more of these warning signs is prevalent, contact the emergency services immediately.

Also, if you know of a friend or family member with high stress levels or a poor diet, or if they’re a regular smoker and/or get little to no exercise, gently advise them that they are putting themselves at risk of suffering a stroke. Of course it isn’t easy to tell a person that they should lose weight or obtain regular exercise, but it’s certainly a preferable alternative to needing to provide constant care for them after they’ve suffered a stroke. Given the frequency with which strokes happen, we simply cannot take a chance that it won’t happen to us or to someone we know and love.

protect yourself from stroke patient safety

patient safety at senior living facilities

Measuring and Assessing Safety at a Senior Living Facility

patient safety at senior living facilities

Checking safety levels at senior living facilities is important to ensure loved ones are protected.

The following guest post was submitted by Daniel Lofaso

Safety is the primary concern when looking for a senior living community for your loved one. With today’s technology, it would seem easy enough to find security in residential settings, however additional factors should also be considered to ensure your loved one is safe. Visit and tour potential communities and facilities, and consider some of the following safety elements:

Staff style. Try to get a feel for the personality and style of the team behind the senior community. Engage staff to determine if they seem capable of handling day-to-day operations, but also how they might respond in an emergency situation, should one arise.

Level of training. While training may not be an issue in an independent living situation, you will want to find a setting with skilled nurses on staff for a residential or assisted living lifestyle. Make sure that there are team members with experience working with an older population, which may contribute to more comprehensive care, increased engagement, and activities that focus on this particular demographic.

Size of Staff. There are mandates set by the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) that dictate the staff-resident ratio in assisted living residences. Typically, senior communities employ more administrative staff than medical or direct-care team members, due to the independent nature of these settings. Perhaps the best solution is a marriage of modalities, such as a step-down senior community that offers both independent living options and skilled-nursing facilities at the same site or on adjacent properties.

Security. You can’t be too vigilant when it comes to security, and most senior living communities are well-equipped to provide safety and peace-of-mind to their residents. When visiting or touring potential living situations, look for cameras, security guards, and protection against potential intruders or predators. A gated community may be the most secure, and could help to keep unwanted visitors, solicitors, or trespassers at bay.

Step-down Systems. When checking out potential living options, consider asking for step-down systems that provide a continuum of care throughout the senior’s lifespan. This could be a residence that offers both independent housing, with assisted care and skilled nursing on the same property, or nearby, to accommodate the resident in the event that they need more intensive care during their tenancy. This can be a great comfort to those living there, as they won’t ever have to face the worrisome prospect of moving again due to illness or injury.

Access to equipment. Based on the senior’s current health and needs, it is integral to find a living situation with access to on-site medical equipment. Devices such as a defibrillator, EDG machine, and oxygen tanks are important in the event of a medical emergency; depending on existing medical conditions, it might also be wise to choose a senior community with access to stress-test machines, sterilizing and diagnostic imaging equipment, too. Ask staff during visits to area residential facilities for more information regarding what equipment is on-site in case it is imminently needed.

Distance from EMS. The most prudent housing solution for any senior is within close proximity to emergency medical services (EMS), should it be needed. Also, be sure that there are some transportation services nearby to assist residents in getting the medical attention that they need promptly. This also makes it convenient to get to area medical appointments for those seeing providers off-site.

Amenities. Choosing a living situation with on-site amenity options can decrease risk of injury and incident. The convenience of on-site amenities can also contribute to the senior’s comfort level and feelings of independence, as they are able to make their own appointments and enjoy services, such as hair, nails, sports, dining, and leisure activities, without requiring the assistance or intervention of family members, friends, or others. This may also appeal to seniors that prefer the security of participation without worrying about getting off-site and transportation issues.

Ramps. Even if seniors don’t need ramps or assistance with mobility now, there is a comfort in knowing that the building has easy-access and handicap features to assist throughout the lifespan. This can parlay any concerns about moving or relocating should the senior experience future limitation, illness, or injury. There are distinct requirements in place regarding accessibility, and more information can be found through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and guidelines.

Dining options and meal service. Be sure that your senior has ready-access to groceries, meals, or dining options that will appeal to them. Furthermore, if there are specific dietary needs or allergy restrictions, let staff know about these requirements when visiting the site. Some senior communities may have a communal dining room option which can foster interaction and socialization among residents. This is a great way for new tenants to make friends and acquaintances in a safe, secure setting.

Safety comes down to more than mere locks on doors when it comes to a senior living situation. Assess and interview residential settings to determine the level of security, staffing, access, and features your potential dwelling has. Take a tour of facilities to find the best fit based on the senior’s needs and possible limitations, as well as those communities that will foster and encourage independence. Be sure to confirm and ask about the privacy policies of the community, to ensure that the confidentiality and autonomy of the senior is a priority.

Daniel Lofaso is the Community Outreach Manager for Lourdes Noreen Mckeen, a retirement and independent living facility in West Palm Beach, FL.

nursing leadership style have a direct impact on patient safety and patient outcomes

Infographic: How Nursing Leadership Styles Can Impact Patient Outcomes and Organizational Performance

The following guest post on improving patient outcomes was submitted by Bradley University

As in any profession, nurses can only perform as well as their workplaces, teams, and managers allow. While all healthcare employees are responsible for an organization’s performances, nurses are in an important position to directly influence patients’ experiences and outcomes. But in healthcare, performance doesn’t just have consequences in patient satisfaction; it can also affect recording errors, medication errors, and ultimately patient mortality rates.

Since managers are in a position to directly control the environment in which nurses work, their leadership style can have a tremendous impact on how patients are cared for and how the organization performs as a whole. Research has found that there are distinct correlations in how each of five key leadership styles can positively — or negatively — sway the quality of care provided.

Leadership styles can be fluid, and there isn’t necessarily one correct approach which will suit every organization or situation. For example, transactional and authoritarian leaders can excel during emergency situations, whereas democratic leadership is at its best when collaborating to refine processes and workflows. Transformational leadership can inspire nurses to perform at their best, demonstrated by research indicating reduced patient mortality in three of six studies.

Learn more about these leadership styles with the infographic below, produced for Bradley University’s Online Nursing Program. This graphic gathers research examining the link between different management styles and how they can influence an organization’s performance and patient outcomes.

How Nursing Leadership Styles Can Impact patient outcomes and Organizational Performance

urgent care centers and women's health

Women’s Health: What Type of Care can Female Patients Expect at an Urgent Care?

urgent care centers and women's health

Urgent Care Centers are playing a more important role in women’s health.

The following guest post on urgent care was submitted by Nathan Bradshaw with UrgentWay.

Going to the doctors or an urgent care center can cause an uneasy feeling for many people. White coat syndrome is prevalent in many people, where their blood pressure sky rockets, and there pulse rate increases. Urgent care centers can be anxiety provoking because some women are not aware of what they can expect when going. Knowing what to expect before you go can make a big difference, and reduce nervousness, and anxiety. I am going to shed some light on what type of care female patients can expect at an urgent care, and why visiting an urgent care can lead to quick treatment options, and very little waiting time.

What is an Urgent Care Center?

First off let’s talk about what an urgent care is. An urgent care center is a walk-in clinic that treats injuries and illness that require immediate attention, but not as serious as conditions that you would typically go to the emergency room for. Urgent care centers are used to treat conditions that are not life threatening but conditions that should not wait to be addressed until your primary care physicians next available appointment. Some of the reasons people may go to an urgent care center include things like accidents, and falls, sprains, and strains, mild to moderate back issues, bleeding or cuts that may require stiches without an excessive amount of bleeding, fever or flu, sore throat, urinary tract infections, or minor broken bones or fractures. (1) Urgent cares are very convenient for serving as a middle of the road treatment center between your primary physician, and the emergency room.

Female Patient’s and Urgent Care Centers:

When women go to an urgent care center, it is important to know what type of care you are going to receive in order to make the decision about going to the urgent care center in the first place. Urgent care centers are able to see patients with a wide variety of conditions. One of the reasons a women may visit an urgent care is for a urinary tract infection, and according to fast med, urinary tract infections in women are very common. “At least 1/3 of all women in the United States will have been diagnosed with a urinary tract infection by the age of 24.” (2) Urinary tract infections are painful, and should not wait to be treated until your physician is able to see you. A women may not feel comfortable going to the emergency room for a UTI, so an urgent care center is a perfect choice. When going to the urgent care for symptoms of a UTI, the physician will evaluate your UTI symptoms, and possible run a urinalysis screening. The urgent care can easily treat this condition with a course of antibiotics.

Another reason women may visit the urgent care center is for issues such as emergency contraception. The physicians at an urgent care center are well equipped to manage the need for emergency contraception, and can do so without the patient needing to visit the emergency room and be subjected to long wait times, and countless germs. Birth control, STD/STI testing are also available at your local urgent care, and can serve as a more convenient option than waiting for a doctor’s appointment. All of these conditions require immediate attention, and the urgent care center can provide care to all women needing care for UTI’s, STD testing, birth control, or emergency contraception.

Other women’s health issues that can be treated at an urgent care can include concerns that you would generally bring up to your OB/GYN. Getting in to see your OB/GYN can take weeks, and sometimes even months, and many concerns need immediate attention. Some of the reasons women may visit an urgent care center when their OB/GYN does not have an immediate appointment include reasons like noticing an abnormal menstrual cycle, pregnancy testing, morning sickness, menopausal symptoms, abdominal pain or mild to moderate pelvic cramping, for a referral to get an ultra sound done, or referrals to see an OB/GYN. Going to an urgent care for your health concerns means that you will most likely get answers the same day, will not have to wait to see a doctor which means your worrying time is much less. Urgent care centers have doctors that are trained to treat many conditions, and you should not have to wait to treat your women’s health concerns.

Urgent Care Centers as a Great Option:

Urgent care centers serve as excellent options for non-life threatening medical conditions. These centers can get your health concerns addressed the same day you visit the clinic, and get you feeling better quicker than having to wait for your primary doctor, or your OB/GYN to see you.

Going to the emergency room may not be necessary for many of your health concerns, and can be avoided by visiting your local urgent care. Emergency rooms can subject you to very long waiting times, higher medical expenses, and even expose you to more germs, Urgent care physician are trained, and can provide you with high quality medical treatment, and have the resources to refer you out to a specialist if needed.

Urgent care physicians can provide excellent medical care just as your physician would. When you visit a walk in clinic, you can expect your care to be very similar to the care you would typically receive at your primary doctors. You will check in, be brought into an exam room where you vitals will be taken, and a physician will do a medical exam, and review your medical history with you. After the medical exam, and a thorough review of your symptoms additional testing may be done, or treatment, and a diagnosis will be discussed with you. You will receive instructions as to how to follow your treatment plan such as obtaining additional testing, or how to take a prescribed medication. You can request a summary of your visit at the urgent care to be faxed over to your primary physician’s office for them to have on file.

Now that you know what women’s health conditions can be treated at an urgent care, and what type of treatment you can expect, I hope that you feel well prepared if you need to make a visit to a walk in clinic, with little anxiety as to what to expect. Going to the doctors can always be stressful, but knowing where to go, and how your treatment will be can make it a much less frightening experience, and can allow you to get high quality care when you need it.

Nathan Bradshaw is an expert marketer who specializes in promoting and growing physician practices. He currently works with UrgentWay to help improve their online footprint and garner interest in their Urgent Care, Occupational Health and Health services.