implement iris recognition for patient identification in healthcare

Patient Safety a Focal Point for Latest RightPatient Deployment

implement iris recognition for patient identification in healthcare

Community Medical Centers recently implemented RightPatient to improve patient safety and revenue cycle management. (Photo courtesy of The Fresno Bee.)

Working to help increase patient safety in healthcare, Community Medical Centers (CMC) in Fresno, CA knew that implementing RightPatient using photo biometrics for patient identification was a step in the right direction. With a quick snap of a camera, patients can now rest assured that their medical identities are protected and clinicians will always have the most up-to-date, comprehensive medical record in their possession during treatment and care. 

The benefits of RightPatient extend beyond protecting patient medical identities however. A recent article in The Fresno Bee that covered the deployment of photo biometrics for patient identification at CMC illustrates the negative effect that chart corrections were having at the facility and how this was impacting revenue cycle management. The article states:

“Charting errors usually are caught early, before any treatment begins, but having to move information into the right chart is time consuming and expensive: Community Medical Centers spends about $190,000 a year to research and correct mismatched charts, she said. And that amount doesn’t include the approximately $300,000 a year the hospital system has estimated it loses on accounts that can’t be billed to insurance companies because the patient identification is incorrect.” (Source: http://bit.ly/2qaFJtw)

RightPatient helps establish accurate patient identification to ensure proper billing at CMC with the potential to drastically reduce chart corrections and increase CMC’s revenue collections. This is often an overlooked benefit of implementing biometrics for patient ID in healthcare.

Take a look at the video covering the deployment of RightPatient at CMC here:

Are you seeking to improve patient safety, reduce the time and money spent reconciling chart corrections, and increase revenue? RightPatient may be the answer. Contact us today for a free demo and let us help direct you on the path of accurate patient ID so you can realize the benefits of other healthcare organizations using photo biometrics.
patient ID solutions for patient safety

How We Address the Patient ID Challenge in Healthcare

patient ID solutions for patient safety

We offer a “holistic” approach to patient ID in healthcare through an intuitive solution that has the ability to identify patients no matter where they are along the care continuum.

The Patient ID Challenge

It is well known that accurate patient identification in healthcare is a key linchpin for safe and effective care delivery. Traditionally defined as the ability to accurately identify a patient during a physical trip to the hospital or doctor’s office, the rapid digitization of healthcare has opened up a host of new touchpoints along the care continuum, creating a strong need for healthcare organizations to re-think their approach and evolve to a patient identification strategy beyond collecting a government issued ID, insurance cards and patient demographics. Many are evaluating the use of biometrics to improve patient identification accuracy and patient safety.

Healthcare organizations are in a sticky predicament. In addition to addressing the most common patient identification challenges, which include:

  • Patients having common names
  • No ID present
  • Patients stealing or sharing identities and insurance
  • Frequent flyers/drug seekers
  • Staff entering the wrong information

they must now factor in new touchpoints borne from the aforementioned digitization of the industry, such as:

  • Telemedicine 
  • Connected health/mHealth devices
  • Patient portals
  • Home health visits

In other words, healthcare organizations must now address patient ID in a “holistic” manner — adopting versatile technology that can be used at any point along the care continuum, no matter where a patient seeks care or access to protected health information (PHI).

As the healthcare industry transitions to value-based care, there is no arguing that the increase in new patient touchpoints along the care continuum has increased convenience and efficiency. However, it also raises new risks that can quickly pollute data integrity and endanger patient safety. Investing in a biometrc patient ID solution that covers in-person visits is smart, but without the ability to quickly scale the technology and cover the new touchpoints mentioned above, it can be a huge risk to healthcare organizations.

How RightPatient® Addresses the Patient ID Challenge

We approach the patient ID challenge from a different angle. Instead of pushing a biometric solution that limits healthcare providers to verifying patient identities when they arrive for an appointment or emergency, our patient identification platform uses biometrics, cognitive intelligence and deep learning to recognize patients at provider sites, during virtual encounters (e.g. patient portals, telemedicine) and in care environments outside of a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office.

Offering the industry’s most advanced, scalable, and versatile patient ID platform based on over 15 years of experience in biometrics, system integration and cloud computing, RightPatient’s core cognitive vision technology empowers healthcare providers to recognize patients with ease and accuracy from ANY end point:

How We Address the Patient ID Challenge in Healthcare

  • Patient ID – Accurately identify patients at registration areas, kiosks, the ED & more; retrieve the correct medical record to prevent duplicates, fraud & human error
  • Patient Photo – Improve safety and personalize the patient experience by embedding patient photos in the medical record and other applications through the RightPatient® photo integration server
  • Portable ID – Strengthen security and patient safety by recognizing patients during portal login, telehealth visits, other remote encounters, and with our unique PatientLens™ smartphone app
  • Analytics – Aggregate and analyze patient visit data, and access a concrete audit log of visits with patient photos for compliance and dispute resolution
photo biometrics for patient identification in healthcare

A patient takes “selfie” photo with a non-contact camera, which can be used for subsequent authentication at any point along the care continuum.

Using RightPatient, healthcare providers can accurately identify patients by simply taking their picture, offering these distinct advantages that no other patient ID solution can match:

  • No hygiene issues (non-contact)
  • The most accurate solution – nearly 3 times more accurate than any other method
  • Scalable, real-time duplicate prevention (identify without having to enter DOB or other credentials)
  • Very fast enrollment & 1:N matching speed (identify in seconds)
  • Minimum enrollment age: 1 year
  • Simultaneous photo capture
  • Not locked into a single device or manufacturer ; lowers long-term risk

We extend the flexibility of our intuitive and best-of-breed patient ID platform through PatientLens™ which turns any off-the-shelf smartphone or tablet into a reliable patient identification tool, empowering clinicians to accurately identify patients through its combination of facial recognition and deep learning capabilities. Designed to quickly identify a patient by using the camera on any smart device, PatientLens™ reduces risk and improves quality by enabling clinicians to easily and accurately verify patient identities, even when they are unconscious.

Conclusion

The inability to accurately identify a patient throughout the care continuum is a huge risk for healthcare providers. Healthcare digitization and the explosion of virtual access to data and care necessitates a more “holistic” approach to patient identification. This will improve patient safety and reduce provider costs while preventing the risk of data breach and adverse health events.

Healthcare organizations need a versatile, scalable solution with seamless EHR integration that removes the IT burden during implementation and offers a flexible adoption model. If you have been thinking about adopting biometrics for patient identification for your organization and want to learn more about our solution and how we are revolutionizing this critical part of effective and safe care delivery, please visit us at HIMSS in Booth 3015 to see a demo and learn more.

Can’t make it by our booth? Please join us for a beverage at the Georgia HIMSS Chapter reception and sign up here for the event. 

Iris Recognition On Smartphones

3 Ways Iris Recognition On Smartphones Will Change Patient ID In Healthcare

iris recognition for patient ID in healthcare is a more accurate and secure way to identify patients

Iris recognition for patient ID on smartphones will increase patient and provider confidence in using a smartphone for mhealth data access and services.

The following post on iris recognition for patient ID in healthcare was submitted by Brad Marshall, Enterprise Development Consultant with RightPatient®

Smartphones as the “future of medicine”

In case you may have missed the news, last month Samsung released the Galaxy Note 7, making it the first commercially available smartphone that features iris recognition biometric identification technology. The recent recall of this phone because of a faulty battery that could catch fire notwithstanding, the ability for consumers to now leverage iris recognition on their smartphones promises to continue the rapid evolution of adopting more secure patient identification technology on digital devices in healthcare.

Many say that the future of medicine is on our smartphones and with good reason. Both patients and providers are rapidly gravitating to these devices for myriad reasons including administering routine medical tests, sharing data, and ensuring medication adherence. However, despite the tremendous potential for the smartphone to radically alter healthcare delivery, serious issues remain about hacking and personal privacy which inhibits more widespread use of these devices because many on both sides of the healthcare aisle still aren’t convinced that sensitive protected health information (PHI) is adequately protected and kept secure. 

The healthcare industry was buoyed by the introduction of iris recognition as a security measure to protect access and keep PHI secure. Here are 3 reasons why iris recognition on smartphones will significantly improve patient ID and help fuel the rise in the use of these devices in healthcare:

  1. Accuracy: Iris recognition is widely considered to be the most accurate and hygienic form of biometric identification. Smartphones are playing a more prominent role in healthcare on both sides of the spectrum with patients increasingly using the devices to access protected health information through patient portals, share information with providers, for telehealth, and to make appointments and order prescriptions. Providers like smartphones because of their portability, accessibility, and mobility. The ability of iris recognition to replace less reliable and less accurate methods of biometric authentication on smartphones (e.g. fingerprints) will help increase and sustain the momentum of their use in healthcare. This bodes well for the industry wide push to establish fluid interoperability based on clean data because it lends confidence that PHI is accurate providing healthcare providers the confidence to participate in health information exchanges on both a regional and national scale.
  2. Eligibility expansion: As of 2015, 68% of American adults owned a smartphone, and 62% of smartphone owners had used their phones to look up information about a health condition (source: http://bit.ly/2dGZ0kQ). The question isn’t whether smartphone use will rise in healthcare, it’s how fast it will rise and how many people will continue to adopt it. Unlike other biometric technologies such as fingerprints that have previously been used on smartphones and rely on skin integrity to work effectively which automatically rules out a certain percentage of the population due to ethnicity, age, climate, and skin condition, iris recognition can be used by virtually anyone dramatically increasing the eligibility of those that are eligible to use it. (And, sorry Network World but your assertion that iris recognition “can’t be used as a verification feature for the blind or people with cataracts…” is inaccurate). We know for a fact that iris recognition does work with blind people and patients with cataracts because dozens of hospitals that use our iris biometric patient identification solution have used it successfully in these cases.
  3. Patient Experience: Among the many benefits ushered into our lives from the digital healthcare revolution, increased transparency and accountability is fundamentally improving the provider/patient relationship. Mhealth apps and patient portals have played a key role to help increase patient engagement and accountability for their health but a broad range of privacy concerns remain that have inhibited their widespread use across the healthcare landscape. Iris recognition on smartphones promises to significantly improve patient confidence that their medical identity is protected before they begin to use apps and portals and provides peace of mind that healthcare providers are deploying the most accurate biometric identification technology available in an effort to ensure privacy and security. There is a strong argument that the use of iris recognition on smartphones will improve the patient experience in healthcare.

Conclusion

There is little doubt that smartphones will continue to be a rising conduit for access to data and healthcare services in the future. The introduction of iris recognition on smartphones will only help to instill confidence in patients that their privacy and medical identities are protected and help providers to ensure their databases are clean and accurate thereby boosting participation in mhealth as a viable channel in healthcare.

Have you used iris recognition to verify your identity on a smartphone prior to accessing an mhealth app, telemedicine, or perhaps another digital health tool? How was your experience and do you feel more confident that your medical identity is better protected? Share your comments with us below. 

patient ID in healthcareBrad Marshall is an Enterprise Development Consultant with RightPatient®. With several years of experience implementing both large and small scale biometric patient identification projects in healthcare, Brad works closely with key hospital executives and front line staff to ensure project success.

University Health Reaps Benefits of Photo Biometrics for Patient ID

University Health Reaps Benefits of Photo Biometrics for Patient ID

photo biometrics for patient ID in healthcare

Augusta, GA based University Health Care implemented photo biometrics for patient ID to increase patient safety.

The following post was submitted by Brad Marshall, Enterprise Development Consultant with RightPatient®

Biometric Patient ID No Longer a Movie Prop

It wasn’t so long ago that the term “biometric patient ID” wasn’t even in the lexicon of healthcare providers as a reliable means to improve patient safety, eliminate duplicate medical records, prevent medical ID theft, and increase patient data integrity. In fact, just a few years ago, many providers had never even heard of biometrics used to accurately identify patients and those that did know about the technology could only relate to what they had seen on the movie screen or read in a science fantasy novel. 

Today, the use of biometrics for patient ID in healthcare has sharply risen as more healthcare organizations realize the technology’s potential to better protect individuals from the perils of misidentification and better understand the ability of select biometric patient ID solutions to be seamlessly integrated into EHR workflow.

However, what stands as a true testament to the rising use of biometrics for patient identification in healthcare is the ability of the technology to demonstrate realized return on investment (ROI) against the goals set forth prior to implementation. In other words, the true “proof in the pudding” of biometrics for patient ID can be benchmarked through multiple objectives — how significant was the reduction in duplicate medical records and chart corrections? What percentage of patients are opting into the biometric patient ID system? Has investment in biometrics for patient ID streamlined patient registration? Is the technology effective in reducing cases of fraud and medical ID theft?

University Health Deploys Photo Biometrics for Patient ID

In most cases, biometric patient identification deployments must mature to a certain level in order to measure the impact on improving patient safety and the additional aforementioned goals and objectives. In other words, beyond restricting medical ID theft and healthcare fraud at the point of service, it’s impractical to expect immediate results after deploying biometrics for patient ID. The system must be in place for a certain period of time before healthcare providers can expect to reap additional benefits — categories such as patient acceptance and enrollment and reduction of duplicate medical records for example.

Augusta, GA based University Health Care System is a classic example of a healthcare organization that had clear goals and objectives in mind prior to implementing biometrics for patient ID and are now realizing benefits from their choice of photo biometrics over other hardware alternatives. University Health officials have been pleased of the simplicity of photo biometrics where patients take their photo and are instantly identified followed by the retrival of their correct medical record in the Epic EHR system. With over 99% of patients choosing to enroll in the biometric patient ID solution, University quickly amassed a database of 50,000 patients to participate and the numbers keep increasing each day.

Perhaps equally important is the fact that since implementing RightPatient®, University Health has seen nearly a 30% decrease in chart corrections, defined as the health information management (HIM) department’s need to go back into a chart and correct any data entry errors during the patient registration process. RightPatient® has also been instrumental to eliminate write–offs directly related to patient fraud — in one case a patient attempted to commit healthcare fraud by using multiple aliases in the ED to illegally obtain prescription drugs. Photo biometrics quickly caught the patient by revealing they had previously enrolled under s separate identity and University Health officials were able to quickly notify on-site authorities who sprang into action.

Conclusion

University Health made a conscious choice to implement photo biometrics for patient ID after carefully evaluating the characteristics and limitations of fingerprint and palm vein. They concluded that photo biometrics was the most accurate, hygienic, and versatile solution available with strong potential for future deployment at additional patient touchpoints including mobile devices, patient portals, and telehealth — touchpoints along the care continuum that fingerprint and palm vein just do not have the ability to address.

Learn more about University Health’s use of photo biometrics for patient ID and stay tuned for more posts on what benefits our end users realize after investing in photo biometrics for patient ID. 

patient ID in healthcareBrad Marshall is an Enterprise Development Consultant with RightPatient®. With several years of experience implementing both large and small scale biometric patient identification projects in healthcare, Brad works closely with key hospital executives and front line staff to ensure project success.

use photo biometrics to identify patients and prevent medical errors

Increasing Patient Safety at Pediatric Cancer Centers

use photo biometrics to increase patient safety and prevent medical errors

A patient access rep uses photo biometrics on a pediatric patient for accurate identification.

Today, RightPatient® proudly announced a brand new initiative aimed at increasing patient safety by donating our photo biometrics patient identification solution to pediatric cancer centers across the country. Patient identification errors are a realistic problem across the entire healthcare industry but perhaps no more magnified in presenting a danger to patients than administering cancer treatments — an extremely dangerous scenario where outcomes could prove to be lethal.

Recognizing an opportunity to give back to the pediatric healthcare community and proactively prevent patient identification errors that have the potential to jeopardize child safety, our cloud-based biometric patient ID platform using photo biometrics follows a simple, intuitive, and hygienic photo capture process. With the ability to be used on patients as young as 12 months of age, RightPatient® provides pediatric cancer centers the opportunity to reduce the risk of medical errors linked to incorrect patient identification prior to administering radiation or chemotherapy treatment.

Details of the initiative can be found here: RightPatient® Donates Patient Identification Software to Pediatric Cancer Centers.

We understand the risks associated with patient misidentification in healthcare. It’s important to call attention to the dangers of not accurately identifying patients in all contexts, particularly those that present a clear and present lethal danger such as administering cancer treatments. Our mission is to offer the most comprehensive patient identification solution that increases patient safety, reduces costs, improves the quality of care, and enhances the patient experience.

 

 

use photo biometrics to identify patients and prevent medical errors

Are Children Eligible to Enroll in Biometric Patient ID Solutions?

protect a child's medical identity with biometric patient ID

A patient access representative takes a photo of a child using an iris recognition camera to protect her medical identity.

The rapid spread of using biometric patient ID solutions has helped to increase safety, reduce duplicate medical records, eliminate healthcare fraud, and strengthen patient data integrity. As most healthcare providers who implement biometrics for patient ID quickly realize – patient participation is the most important factor to ensure deployment success and realize the strongest return on investment.

Traditionally, we see the use of biometrics as a strong security solution to protect our own medical identities, but what about children? Are they eligible to enroll in a biometric patient ID platform and realize the same protection as adults? The short answer is: It depends on the biometric patient identification solution that you select.

Often overlooked as a key demographic that is just as susceptible to the perils of medical identity theft and inaccurate identification, protecting a child’s medical identity is just as, if not more important than protecting our own identities. On a recent podcast with Eva Velasquez, President and CEO of The Identity Theft Resource Center, I asked Eva how important it is to protect a child’s medical identity and what is the earliest age that a child can have their medical identity stolen? Here is what she said:

“Protecting a child’s medical identity is definitely a growing concern in healthcare. And, it isn’t only protecting their medical identity but their identity as a whole. People generally do not believe that (medical ID theft) is a crime that affects children, but I can tell you that we (Identity Theft Resource Center) handle and re mediate cases of child ID theft on a daily basis. It’s really about ensuring that a child’s personal information doesn’t make it into the hands of a thief. The crux of the problem with child medical ID theft is the time of discovery…the most common ways that people find out they are victims of ID theft is because they are trying to accomplish something and they hit a barrier.

If you think about it, children just don’t engage with the outside world the same way adults do – they aren’t out applying for credit, trying to get a driver’s license (before the age of 16) and go through background checks. All of these external things that pop up and make us take notice of our identities, they just don’t happen with children, so that’s where it becomes a parent’s responsibility. For parents, it’s all about taking as many proactive steps as you can. Some states allow you to freeze your child’s credit, and you can certainly always request your child’s medical records to go through them and ensure their accuracy. As a parent, you need to read the Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) after your child has a pediatric visit.”

I then asked Eva what the earliest age is that a child can have their medical identity stolen. She offered this response:

“I hate to say this because it almost sounds like fear mongering but it’s absolutely true – it can actually be before the child is born. If a criminal just decides to make up a social security number that hasn’t been issued yet and starts to use it, it doesn’t necessarily make it back to the social security administration office so your child is born, you go to get a social security number issued to them and you receive it but a criminal has already been using it – so child ID theft can actually happen before they are born.”

Clearly, there is a sense of urgency to ensure a child’s medical identity is protected from the moment they are born! The problem that some healthcare providers face who have implemented certain biometric hardware modalities for patient ID is that not all are eligible for children to enroll. Instead, some biometric patient ID solution providers recommend that a child not enroll until they reach a certain age, or until certain physiological attributes are mature enough to be recognized by a hardware device. This essentially excludes children from leveraging the identity protection and security advantages of using biometric patient ID for identification at the age where they may perhaps be most vulnerable to having their identities stolen. 

The key for any healthcare provider seeking to implement biometrics for patient ID is to deploy a solution that has the ability to capture a child’s unique biometric profile at the youngest age possible and then use that as their identity credential for the rest of their lives without the inconvenience of re-enrolling as a child matures or the security risks of not being eligible to enroll at all.

Protecting a child’s medical identity is among the many reasons that we recommend the use of photo biometrics for patient identification in healthcare. Children as young as 10 months old can enroll and since the iris is a human physiological attribute that forms at 10 months of age and remains static throughout our lifetimes, it represents a viable and stable credential for accurate identification. 

As more healthcare organizations around the world evaluate the use of biometrics for patient identification, it is critical that all possible patient options and scenarios are addressed to maximize return on investment and ensure that any patient, no matter how young or old, can take advantage of the benefits to protect their medical identities. 

For a full version of our podcast with Eva Velasquez, President and CEO of The Identity Theft Resource Center, click here.

frost sullivan on growth and potential of iris biometrics

New Podcast: Frost & Sullivan on Growth and Potential of Iris Biometrics

iris biometrics for patient identification in healthcare

Listen to our latest healthcare podcast where we interview Ram Ravi from Frost & Sullivan to discuss iris biometrics.

Last year, global research and consulting organization Frost and Sullivan released a research report entitled: “The 5 Year Opportunity Analysis of the Global Iris Recognition Market.” According to Frost & Sullivan’s Web site, the report:

“analyses trends in the iris recognition market across the government and commercial sectors, globally.”

Frost & Sullivan reports that iris biometrics is predicted to steadily grow as a prominent technology for individual identification within a number of verticals including patient identification in healthcare. However, misunderstandings of this technology are still widespread along with questions about its potential applications. Frost & Sullivan covers:

  • Key market drivers
  • Potential applications for iris biometrics
  • Accuracy rates compared to other biometric modalities (palm vein and fingerprint)
  • Unique features (e.g. – non-contact, hygienic form factor)  

We invited Ram Ravi, lead research analyst for Frost & Sullivan, to join us on our latest podcast to discuss this report and provide some insight into his research on iris recognition biometrics to help our community better understand this technology and its potential to thrive as a future biometric identification modality, especially for patient identification in healthcare. In light of the continued misunderstandings of iris biometrics, this podcast covers:

  • Overview of the report, the “5-year Opportunity Analysis of the Global Iris Recognition Market”
  • Why Frost & Sullivan sees growth of iris recognition in healthcare as a key mechanism for expansion of this biometric identification technology
  • The factors leading Frost and Sullivan to conclude that iris recognition is poised for strong growth as a dominant biometric identification management technology
  • When faced with a choice of biometric modalities to deploy for patient identification in healthcare, why Frost & Sullivan recommends iris recognition technology over other modalities such as fingerprint or palm vein
  • How Frost & Sullivan came to the conclusion that iris biometrics is the most accurate biometric modality
  • What Frost & Sullivan would say to someone who has a mistaken idea about iris recognition based on false information
  • Aside from healthcare, the additional potential for iris recognition in the commercial space
  • The impact of the rising emphasis on connected devices (IoT) on the biometric market or specifically the iris recognition market

Among the several conclusions that Frost & Sullivan reported, these are the highlights:

  • Iris biometrics is the most accurate biometric technology in the market when compared to fingerprint and palm vein biometrics for patient identification in healthcare
  • The non-contact, hygienic form-factor of iris biometrics renders it a safer technology to use for patient ID in healthcare that supports hospital infection control
  • Iris biometrics is the same thing as having your photo taken with a digital camera and is extremely non-invasive
  • Frost & Sullivan feels that iris biometrics has a much stronger potential for growth for patient identification in healthcare than fingerprint or palm vein due to the aforementioned points
  • Iris biometrics has strong potential for growth related to the Internet of Things (IoT)

We encourage you to download a full version of the podcast to hear more about iris biometrics. 

A link to the podcast can be found on our healthcare biometrics podcast page. A link to the podcast summary slides can be found on our SlideShare page

Thank you to Ram Ravi and the Frost & Sullivan team for the opportunity to discuss their research!

For a full list of all our podcasts, please visit our podcast page

biometrics for patient identification and infection control and hygiene in healthcare

Patient Hand Hygiene Report Casts Shadow on Contact Dependent Biometric Patient Identification

biometrics for patient identification and infection control and hygiene in healthcare

A recent NBC news article reported that patients carry superbugs on their hands raising concerns about whether contact dependent biometric patient identificaiton solutions support hospital infection control.

Patient Hands May Pose Greatest Threat to Hospital Acquired Infections

Is the heightened awareness on ensuring that doctors, nurses, and other clinical staff wash their hands as part of strict hospital infection control protocols missing an important element? According to a new research report published by NBC News, hospitals would be well served to address another important demographic inside a facility that could perhaps pose an even greater threat to patient safety: patients themselves.

Researchers at the University of Michigan released details of a report that found “nearly a quarter of patients they tested had some sort of drug-resistant germ on their hands when they were discharged from the hospital…” The results support the theory that many healthcare experts have long asserted – patients are a major threat to spreading the germs of superbug infections. Researchers tested for a number of bugs, and reported:

“We swabbed the palm, fingers, around nails of patients’ hands. The tests were done when patients were admitted, two weeks later, and then once a month for the next six months.” (Source: http://nbcnews.to/1Xv5Rck)

The report goes on to say that patients frequently bring multi-drug-resistant organisms on their hands to a hospital environment and drew the conclusion that this increases the probability that these organisms are likely to be transmitted to other patients and healthcare workers. A concluding thought of the report was:

“Despite concerns raised by some recent studies, patient hand-washing is not a routine practice in hospitals to date.” (Source: http://nbcnews.to/1Xv5Rck)

Patient Hand Hygiene Raises Concerns About Contact Dependent  Biometric Patient Identification Solutions

As more hospitals investigate the use of biometrics for patient identification, they quickly discover that hardware options available include contact-dependent devices (fingerprint, palm vein) and non-contact devices (iris and facial recognition). Is it a healthcare organization’s responsibility to evaluate the hygiene risks of asking patients to physically touch a biometric device for identification? Do hospitals have an obligation to weigh the risks of hospital-acquired infections that could materialize from using contact-dependent biometrics for patient identification?

The NBC News report certainly calls into question the hygiene risks of deploying any type of technology solution that requires physical contact with a patient and could lead to the spread of germs and disease. Our hope is that hospitals assessing the use of biometrics for patient identification will take this into account and understand the risks involved when using contact-dependent devices and the responsibility to sterilize the device after each use if the decision is made to deploy this type of hardware.

There are many factors to consider when evaluating the use of biometrics for patient identification in healthcare. As we learned from the NBC News report, supporting hospital infection control to prevent the spread of germs and disease by using contactless biometric patient identification is important to consider.

Curious to know more about how to assess the differences in patient identification technology? Download our eBook for more details. 

review of biometric patient identification educational session at 2016 HIMSS conference

Takeaways on Biometric Patient ID from HIMSS 2016 Conference

review of biometric patient identification educational session at 2016 HIMSS conference

Several educational sessions at the 2016 HIMSS conference were dedicated to patient ID in healthcare.

Like most who attended last week’s annual HIMSS conference in Las Vegas, I was a bit overwhelmed at the amount of information, activities, and traffic swirling around the Exhibit Halls and lecture rooms. It’s difficult to not get swallowed up among 40,000+ attendees and even more hard to block out the flashing lights and unbelievably cool technology on display in order to focus on what matters most, but I had a set agenda to follow and stuck to my plan. This was the third HIMSS conference I have attended and I continue to be amazed at the outstanding job that HIMSS staff does to pull off this event each year, which only seems to keep growing in size, scope, and complexity. Hat tip to HIMSS staff who work tirelessly on making this event successful!

Buried among the central themes of advancing interoperability, cybersecurity, population health, consumer and patient engagement, and connected health, there were a handful of educational sessions dedicated to patient identification in healthcare including a presentation by Dr. Raymond Aller, a Clinical Professor at the University of California entitled: “Patient Identification: Biometric or Botched?”

This was the only educational session at the conference that I could see which was 100% dedicated to the use of biometrics for patient ID in healthcare and it was well attended – I counted approximately 75 people who showed up for the session. 

Dr. Aller presented what I felt was a fair, unbiased analysis of the patient identification landscape in healthcare and a thorough analysis (including strengths, weaknesses, and deployment examples) of biometric patient identification modalities available to hospitals and health organizations. Here is a brief overview of Dr. Aller’s central themes, and what he presented:

  1.  Text based patient identification is simply no longer an efficient or safe way to ID patients: Dr. Aller began his presentation by listing the consequences of failing to properly identify a patient including the patient safety, legal, and liability issues and public relations nightmare misidentification can create. He then demonstrated the drawbacks and limitations of text based patient ID calling it “obsolete” and pointing out that in 2016, hospitals and healthcare organizations can no longer afford the risks associated with this form of identification. He even went so far as to question the viability of continuing to use a master patient index (MPI) as a patient data repository, calling it a “dangerous” and “obsolete” concept.
  2. Healthcare fraud and medical identity theft: Dr. Aller then explained the potentially catastrophic consequences of healthcare fraud, medical identity theft, and duplicate medical records from misidentifying a patient and the additional problems and risks that data merges pose stressing that too often, hospitals spend hundreds of thousands (sometimes millions) of dollars a year cleaning data and merging records without ever having the foresight to implement technology that will sustain patient data integrity in the future. Bottom line? Relying on names and dates of birth (“what you know”) and ID cards (“what you have’) to identify patients is simply no longer safe or sufficient. The patient identification industry is evolving to identify patients by “who they are.”
  3.  Biometric patient identification technology overview: The last third of Dr. Aller’s presentation centered on an overview of biometric patient identification technologies available including a detailed description of fingerprint, palm vein, and iris recognition (also referred to as “photo biometrics”). Although Dr. Aller left out some key points about these biometric patient identification modality options (for example, he did not mention the back end biometric matching technology behind each of these modalities and why this is important to understand), his review was fair and provided a relatively unbiased look at the strengths and limitations of using biometrics for patient identification. One interesting point that Dr. Aller made was the fact that in a clinical setting, the use of fingerprint and palm vein biometrics for patient identification creates questions about hygiene and supporting hospital infection control policies because a patient must physcially touch a device for identification – an attribute that is not a factor with iris recognition since it is contactless to the patient. 
  4. Conclusion: Dr. Aller concluded his presentation by further extolling on the strengths of biometrics for patient identification but cautioned the audience that biometrics are by no means a panacea due to select psychological, sociological, and physiological limitations. However, Dr. Aller did point out that his research indicated that when presented with the option of using biometrics to protect their medical identities and keep them safe throughout the care continuum, over 99% of patients opt-in to using the technology.
  5. Question and Answer session: Selected attendees asked some very interesting questions during the Q&A session including one woman from a neonatal hospital who lamented that it is very difficult to identify newborns with biometrics since neither palm vein or fingerprint biometrics can be used on children (photo biometrics can be used on any child 10 months or older). Another person asked what biometric technology could be used to verify patient identities over the phone when they call in requesting access to protected health information (PHI).

Several other educational sessions during HIMSS were centered on patient identification in healthcare with several common themes emerging:

  1. The healthcare industry is slowly shifting from credential based to identity centric patient ID.
  2. A central reason that more hospitals aren’t researching how to more effectively identify patients are competing priorities. Healthcare simply has to drop the “wait and see” attitude to more effective patient identification. 
  3. 198,000 deaths annually can be contributed to patient misidentification.
  4. Patient misidentification resulted in $77 billion Medicare and Medicaid fraud and improper payments.

If I had a crystal ball, I’d venture to say that patient identification will continue to be a hot-button topic in healthcare during 2016 and beyond, largely because so many other elements of care along the continuum are contingent upon it and so many back-end processes and functions (e.g. – revenue cycle management) depend on getting it right. 

What lessons did you take away from any of the HIMSS 2016 educational sessions dedicated to patient ID in healthcare?

patient ID in healthcare podcast

IntrepidNow Healthcare Podcast Highlights Patient Identification in Healthcare

patient identification in healthcare podcast

Joe Lavelle from IntrepidNow Healthcare interviewed RightPatient® President Michael Trader to discuss the current state of patient identification in healthcare. (photo courtesy of Joe Lavelle and IntrepidNow Healthcare)

Our thanks to Joe Lavelle and his staff for inviting our President Michael Trader to the IntrepidNow podcast to discuss patient identification in healthcare. Joe invited Michael to not only talk about the current state of patient ID in healthcare and some of the problems that misidentification of patients creates, he also provided the opportunity for Michael to discuss the RightPatient® biometric patient identification platform and what distinct advantages it provides compared to other solutions on the market.

Listen in to Joe’s podcast and learn:

  • The impact of biometric patient ID solutions to eliminate duplicate medical records/overlays and sustain patient data integrity
  • How modern patient identification solutions help prevent medical identity theft and fraud at the point of service
  • How the digitization of healthcare now makes accurate patient identification essential at every touchpoint along the care continuum 
  • The rising importance and ubiquity of photos for accurate patient ID in healthcare
  • The biometric patient identification solution competitive landscape
  • Updates on The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) national patient ID challenge
  • Looking ahead to what’s next for RightPatient® in 2016

Listen to the entire interview here:

Thanks again to Joe Lavelle from IntrepidNow for inviting us to be a guest on his podcast! For a complete list of all RightPatient® healthcare biometrics podcasts, please visit our podcast landing page.