At the Becker's Conference, learn how RightPatient prevents patient fraud

At the Becker’s Conference, learn how RightPatient prevents patient fraud

The Becker’s 2017 (and 3rd annual) Health IT & Revenue Cycle Conference is only a few days away! Needless to say, we’re excited, and it’s not just because George W. Bush and Sugar Ray Leonard will be there. The conference has a great lineup of speakers, presentations, and, ahem, vendors like RightPatient that will be providing a wealth of information on a variety of important topics.

The timing of this conference could not be better considering the recent Equifax data breach, which puts over 140 million Americans at risk of identity theft. This has serious implications for healthcare, but the good news is that patients and providers can mitigate their risk with RightPatient.

Since our inception, we have always recommended Photo Biometrics with RightPatient and have never deviated from that position. This didn’t come out of left field; we are, by far, the most experienced vendor in our market segment with 15 years of experience in biometric technology. We have worked with many biometric modalities, implemented our technology in projects around the world, built some massive biometric matching systems, and generally know this stuff inside and out. That’s why we always knew what was best for healthcare and had a vision of how Photo Biometrics would be used with our platform to transform the way that patients are identified.

 

RightPatient accurately identifies patients by simply capturing their photo. At provider locations, this is critical to prevent identification errors and medical record mix-ups that affect patient safety, revenue cycle, and data integrity. With 1,000 patients dying each day from preventable medical errors and hospitals writing off millions of dollars annually from denied claims and patient fraud, health systems should have an easy time justifying RightPatient.

But, for good measure, we now have the Equifax breach. Patient fraud was already a serious issue with 2-10% of patients showing up at the ED and providing false information (I’m looking at you, frequent flyers). We’ve heard countless stories from customers before they implemented RightPatient about frequent card sharing and outright fraud that was costing them millions in annual write-offs (RightPatient has since eliminated these issues). With the personal data of over 140 million Americans now compromised, how much easier will it be for someone to obtain care, access healthcare information, or gain a medical record release under a stolen identity?

Here’s the bigger question – why deal with any of these risks at all? For a small monthly fee, healthcare providers could implement RightPatient and solve these issues. When patients interact with their providers, RightPatient captures their picture and accurately identifies them. The service is contactless (ideal for hygiene/infection control), supports mobile devices (e.g. EMTs, unconscious patients, home health visits), and the patient photos that RightPatient simultaneously captures deliver unparalleled value in various ways.

If you have a chance, stop by our booth #1003 at the Becker’s Conference to check out why RightPatient is transforming patient ID in healthcare and to learn about our vision. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Patient Identification Errors

Prevent Patient Record Mix-Ups Before It’s Too Late

 

It’s no secret that patient identification is a challenge, but unfortunately, a frightening number of “wrong patient, right procedure” mix-ups still occur every day in hospitals and health systems around the country.

For example, an article published on bostonglobe.com highlighted a case at UMass Memorial Medical Center where a patient was mistakenly diagnosed with cancer and underwent unneeded medical procedures before hospital staff discovered a mix-up with the patient’s CT scan results. And, according to the article, this is far from an isolated case of mistaken patient identity at this hospital.

The good news is that there are tools that can help hospitals and health systems prevent such dangerous mistakes.

The RightPatient® Cloud, for example, is designed to prevent mix-ups and cases of mistaken identity by streamlining patient identification procedures and reducing the risk of human error—all while dramatically increasing the chances that that the right patient receives the right treatment from the right providers.

Most hospitals and health systems rely solely on patient identification procedures that require healthcare staff to use two pieces of patient information, such as full name and date of birth, to match patients to their medical records.

However, in today’s bustling healthcare atmosphere, it can be easy for healthcare staff to forget to perform proper patient identification procedures. And, many patients do not speak English, are unconscious or have similar names and birth dates, all of which increase the risk of medical mix-ups.

Healthcare regulators and public health officials are increasingly sending the message to hospitals and health systems that the time to make changes to patient identification procedures is now—before a potentially disastrous mistake occurs. 

By implementing the RightPatient system, hospitals can eliminate patient identification guesswork for healthcare staff. That’s because the RightPatient system captures a photo of each patient upon admission to the hospital.

After the patient is enrolled in the system, the patient’s medical record is locked and can only be opened using the patient’s unique biometric identifiers. The system can be installed on any smartphone or tablet, making it portable enough to meet the unique needs of staff and patients.

Although hospitals are spending millions of dollars on electronic health record systems, population health software and other advanced equipment to protect patients and streamline operations, most of these systems overlook a fundamental aspect of patient safety: Ensuring that healthcare staff are accessing the right records and providing the right care to the right patient.

Prevent Patient Record Mix-Ups Before It's Too Late

  • The bottom line is that healthcare consumers go to hospitals to get well and hard-working doctors and nurses do everything in their power to make that happen. When patients are not identified correctly, bad things happen.
  • The sad fact is that one simple medical record mix-up resulting from a patient mismatch is all that it takes to throw a patient and their family into distress, negate the hard work and dedication of the doctors and nurses who are trying to help, and damage the reputation of the hospital where the incident occurred.

With RightPatient, all that is required to eliminate these risks is a simple snap of a camera when a patient walks into the hospital. That doesn’t sound like too much to ask, does it?

patient ID in healthcare

The Top 6 Reasons to Visit us in Booth #1252 at 2017 HFMA ANI

patient ID in healthcare

Visit us in Booth #1252 at the 2017 HFMA ANI Conference and learn more about the benefits of biometric patient identification.

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

If you are heading to Orlando this weekend for the HFMA show, please take a moment while you are walking the Exhibit Hall to visit RightPatient in Booth #1252. We will be on hand offering demos of our biometric patient identification solution and Smart App that converts any smartphone or tablet into a powerful patient recognition device. Not convinced? Here are the top 5 reasons why RightPatient is a must stop while navigating the exhibit floor:

  1. See the RightPatient Smart App –  As we just recently discussed on this blog, the RightPatient Smart App provides healthcare organizations the ability to extend the power and reach of our patient identification solution to any smart device equipped with a camera. Using augmented reality and deep learning to identify patients, the Smart App is an ideal tool for clinicians to quickly and accurately identify unconscious patients, verify patients prior to medical procedures, improve patient safety, and securely capture and share clinical images. 
  2. Learn How to Humanize Health IT – As you may already know, the RightPatient patient ID solution captures a high resolution image of the patient’s face and then links that image to their medical record. Several of our existing customers have provided feedback on these patient photos via their clinicians who say that these pictures serve an important clinical purpose and are helping to improve the patient experience. These patient photos are helping clinicians feel more comfortable and better connected to the patient often serve as reminders about the clinical context of the patient. Learn how RightPatient is helping healthcare organizations across the country become more patient-centered than ever before.
  3. RightPatient is a Finalist in CHIME National Patient ID Challenge – We think this is kind of a big deal. Being named a finalist in this important initiative that could very well change the face of patient identification in healthcare as we know it, we recognize that being named a finalist is a true testament to the validity of our solution. It’s worth mentioning that of the finalists named, RightPatient is the only vendor that has a solution already being used in healthcare by many hospitals throughout the country. Stop by and learn why our solution was named a finalist in the Challenge. Go Team RightPatient!
  4.  Safeguarding PHI – Cybersecurity has become quite a hot topic in healthcare as we have witnessed one hospital system after another falling victim to attacks and rushing to bolster their security defenses. We are elated to see the increased emphasis placed on protecting networks but what about taking the same steps to protect data? Network security and data security are two separate areas and any upgrade to cybersecurity defenses simply must be met with commensurate upgrades to safeguard protected health information (PHI). After all, the digitization of healthcare has opened many new doors to access PHI (e.g. – patient portals, mHealth apps, telemedicine), shouldn’t healthcare organizations be proactively taking measures to implement patient ID solutions that can secure it?
  5. Learn about our SaaS model – With our software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, healthcare organizations can implement the patient ID platform for a small monthly fee that includes software, hosting, and support. And don’t worry. Our artificial intelligence system runs in the secure, HIPAA-compliant RightPatient Cloud to minimize deployment and IT costs. What could be better? Stop by the Booth to learn more.
  6. Accurate Patient ID Helps Revenue Cycle Management – Since revenue is a dominating theme of the conference, we thought we would mention that it is a proven fact that increasing patient identification accuracy will help prevent duplicate medical records, reduce denied claims, and improve the revenue stream. Stop by Booth #1252 and learn how you can improve revenue cycle management through an investment in RightPatient.

Skimming the agenda, the HFMA staff has again assembled a very compelling, highly informative conference packed with outstanding curriculum. Don’t forget that the Exhibit Hall is a treasure trove of education too, and we encourage you to take time and stop by to see why our patient identification solution is dominating the healthcare industry. 

Take a moment to watch this short testimonial video from George Ann Phillips, Administrative Director of Revenue Cycle for University Health System in Augusta, GA:

Drop us an email at: sales@rightpatient.com to pre-schedule an appointment or drop in and see us at your convenience. We can’t wait to see everyone in Orlando!

patient ID in healthcareBrad Marshall is a Senior 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.

patient identification for patient safety

Mobile Patient Identification with the RightPatient Smart App

patient identification for patient safety

Demonstration of the RightPatient Smart App to a HIMSS attendee.

Amidst the hoopla and chaos of this year’s HIMSS conference in Orlando, we introduced a new feature for our cloud-based RightPatient biometric patient identification solution: the RightPatient Smart App. This is kind of a big deal for the healthcare industry because the RightPatient Smart App has the power to turn any smartphone or tablet into a powerful patient recognition device.

In other words, this is anything but a ho-hum development in the concerted effort to adopt more modern patient ID technology. Allow me to explain…

As we have written about before, increased recognition of the critical importance of accurate patient identification for patient safety has played an important role in our own research and development of the RightPatient cloud biometric patient identification solution.  I don’t think I’m alone in saying that most patients see patient identification as the part of our healthcare experience that starts with sitting in front of a registrar at a healthcare facility so they can obtain our insurance information and make sure we are who we claim to be.

However, anyone who has spent time as a patient in a healthcare environment knows that most medical facilities don’t stop with establishing accurate identification at the point of registration. You may have your ID checked before medication disbursement, prior to the administration of a medical procedure, or perhaps just before surgery. This is important for patient safety, and to reduce the risk of adverse events from wrong patient procedures. 

The problem is that many patient identification mistakes are still regularly made across the healthcare industry. This can cause irreparable harm to patients and providers in many cases. Fortunately, we provide the most innovative technology in the market to solve this problem. 

For example, the RightPatient Smart App is a modern, mobile patient identification solution that fills an important void to help healthcare organizations improve compliance and patient safety. Here is a breakdown of the Smart App features and their value to patient identification in healthcare:

  • Mobile patient ID ubiquity: As mentioned earlier, the RightPatient Smart App turns any smartphone or tablet into a powerful mobile patient identification tool. Is this a big deal? Absolutely. The Smart App improves the ability of clinicians and others responsible for care administration to be responsible stewards of patient safety and compliance. It can be used as a multi-factor authentication tool along with another form of identification or act as a standalone patient ID device.  Recognize patients anywhere, anytime, with any smart device.
  • Patient photo: The Smart App matches against the patient photo that was captured by RightPatient during registration for positive identification. We have previously written about the importance of capturing high-quality patient photos and linking them to their electronic health records. RightPatient ensures that a standardized, high-quality enrollment photo is always captured. This increases the efficacy of the Smart App and ensures that providers have images that they can rely on for clinical context.
  • Identifying unconscious patients: There are few things in healthcare more risky than treating an unconscious patient without access to their medical history. The RightPatient Smart App allows clinicians to easily identify unconscious patients through their smartphone to retrieve the patient’s medical record. The Smart App opens the door for accurate patient identification in traditional and non-traditional settings (e.g. – oncology, medical records release, EMTs, home health) – places where perhaps verifying a patient’s identity is required but may not have traditionally been on the compliance radar. The Smart App fills in the patient ID compliance holes that exist in a healthcare organization – enabling higher levels of patient safety and helping to reduce medical errors and risk.

Medical errors caused by patient misidentification will continue to rise with increased data sharing and human error. In fact, the ECRI institute recently included patient identification errors in its most recent annual top-10 list of patient safety concerns. Powered by the RightPatient cloud platform, the Smart App will strengthen patient safety, reduce risk, and more effectively humanize the healthcare experience – a critical element of improving patient satisfaction and empathetic care delivery. Design and development of this new feature was a direct result of our 15 years of experience in biometric technology, listening to the needs of our customers, and delivering a practical solution that increases the power and reach of our industry-leading patient identification technology. You asked. We listened.

Have questions about the RightPatient Smart App? Drop us an email at info@rightpatient.com or visit here to request a free demo.

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Mary Mirabelli Thrive presentation at 2017 Northern CA HFMA Conference

Thrive: What Did I Take Away From The HFMA Northern California Spring Conference

I was staying in Silicon Valley for a few weeks when I realized my visit overlapped with the HFMA Northern California Chapter’s spring conference. I decided to join Mike and meet some interesting individuals, fluent in the language of healthcare, of course. Words cannot express how valuable that decision proved to be.

The weekend began effortlessly enough, as the drive from San Francisco was a mere hour and a half. I walked into the conference just in time to be greeted by a group of friendly and charming people, one of whom was a grinning and caffeinated Mike.

Our booth was decorated by stunning, new pop-up banners his team had designed to perfection.  So far, the stage was set for an unforgettable and impactful conference. I quickly learned how unforgettable it would truly be.

Thrive: What Did I Take Away From The HFMA Northern California Spring Conference

Mary Mirabelli, Vice President at Global Healthcare Services at HP as well as HFMA National Chairperson, took the stage at the show’s onset. As she began speaking, my mind raced with the sole thought of talking to her after her presentation about a potential partnership with HP (of course J). After giving an introduction and describing some of her accomplishments, Mary suddenly shifted to the topic of the show for this year – Thrive. What I imagined was a topic limited to “thriving” within the realm of healthcare suddenly took a turn to encompass a far more expansive and meaningful definition.

Mary shared her story with us – not the edited version, but the real one including life’s challenges and difficult moments. Taking the crowd through a short journey of her own life, she shared the impact of losing her parents at age 14 as well as being a double cancer survivor. Life had taken the craziest jabs at her, but her spirit never shattered. She always stood up and kept moving forward. I was surreally touched by this woman’s story, so much so that I requested to take a photograph with her to show my daughter.

 Thrive: What Did I Take Away From The HFMA Northern California Spring Conference

The day proceeded as well as it had began, with great insights from Dignity’s Head of Innovation, to a superb lunch with a side of fantastic conversation with Gary Krboyan from St. Mary’s Home Health Services. Gary is a numbers man, and provided a wise perspective on who RightPatent should target in the home health market. To add to all the fascinating conversation, Mike got to talking with Dignity and Sutter about our mobile app. Suffice it to say, the conference was an amazing experience.

Thrive: What Did I Take Away From The HFMA Northern California Spring Conference

Unfortunately, I had to head out of the conference early to meet a self-proclaimed “connected guy” for dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf.  As I was driving back to San Francisco through the rolling green hills to the left and never ending orchards to the right, I kept thinking about Mary and how she thrived regardless of the obstacles that stood in her way. As an entrepreneur, I experience my moments of extremes, as Vinod Koshla of Koshla Venture always mentions: “For entrepreneurs, highs are high and lows are low. It’s a lone journey.” Mary’s experience and tenacity inspires me today, and I hope it does the same for you – to always get back up and thrive.

patient identification for patient safety

HIMSS 2017 Recap and Announcing the Winner of our Booth Giveaway

patient identification for patient safety

The RightPatient team had a very successful 2017 HIMSS conference.

For those that attended the 2017 HIMSS Conference in Orlando, welcome back to reality! Even though the show ended last week, the reverberations and excitement of the information, technology, and ideas shared, unveiled, and discussed will be around for years to come.

Each annual HIMSS conference presents a wealth of knowledge and showcases perhaps the most interesting and innovative healthcare technology in the world. If you are lucky enough to attend HIMSS, you know that it’s easy to get swallowed up in the Exhibit Hall by vendors competing for your attention and blinded by the flashing lights, spinning booth displays, and boisterous entertainment. Unless you map out a specific vendor path destination or have a pre-determined agenda scheduled, things can get rather dicey navigating the hordes of people congregating in the aisles.

For those of you that took the time to stop by and visit us in the GA Health IT Pavilion (Booth #3015) to see how cognitive vision intelligence can improve patient safety and increase revenue though accurate patient identification, a sincere thank you. You were treated to not only our innovative and unique approach to solving the patient identity crises in healthcare through the use of photo biometrics, but you also were on hand to witness the unveiling of PatientLens™ – a human vision app to reduce medical errors and increase patient safety that turns any smart device into a powerful, intuitive patient ID tool.

You learned that PatientLens helps to identify unconscious patients in seconds and is an important part of an overarching strategy to reduce medical errors along the care continuum by positively identifying a patient prior to rendering services or distributing data. After all, it’s no longer feasible or realistic to define patient ID solely in the context of a physical visit to a healthcare organization. Patient identification must now be viewed as critical during each and every touchpoint along the care continuum – e.g. connected health apps, telemedicine, home health, and patient portals. Investing in a patient ID and patient data integrity technology that can only be used when a patient physically shows up for a visit is an antiquated and somewhat risky and dangerous approach. 

HIMSS 2017 Recap and Announcing the Winner of our Booth Giveaway

Another fantastic year at HIMSS! The exhibit floor was very busy.

The time is now to learn more about establishing a holistic approach to patient ID that addresses the positive identification of increasingly mobile patients with cognitive vision technology that saves lives, improves quality and reduces risk.

We would like to take a moment and announce that John Faust, VP of Health Informatics and Technology at Lifepont health was the winner of our Amazon Echo booth giveaway. Congratulations John!

We would also like to extend a thank you to the GA Department of Economic Development and the Atlanta Area Chamber of Commerce for the opportunity to share booth space and for making the entire logistical process smooth as silk. We are very grateful!

 

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.

wireless biometric patient identification devices improve patient safety

Improving Mobile Patient Identification with Wireless Technology

wireless biometric patient identification devices improve patient safety

Particularly in emergency situations, wireless biometric patient identification devices offer convenience and portability to ensure patient safety.

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

Patient Identification isn’t Cookie Cutter

You know the drill. A trauma patient is whisked into the emergency room bypassing the normal registration process to receive immediate care. Despite the patient’s condition, you as a patient registration representative are still responsible for establishing the patient’s identity, verifying their insurance eligibility, and ensuring that services rendered are allocated to the proper electronic medical record so the hospital can maintain high levels of data integrity and secure accurate revenue cycle compensation. Or, perhaps a handicap or disabled patient arrives at your facility and you may have to adjust normal registration procedures to compensate for their condition which may involve approaching the patient in the waiting room instead of asking them to approach you. 

Whatever the case may be, some hospitals that have implemented biometrics for patient identification now have the ability to use a wireless camera to identify a patient at bedside or in-person, adding registration flexibility and removing the need to deal with the often cumbersome tangle of wires, USB cables, and devices on computers on wheels (COWs) or workstation on wheels (WOWs).  These hospitals understand that wireless, portable patient identification offers distinct advantages to quickly identify patients with special conditions without the restrictions of a USB connection that may limit mobility and waste valuable time. 

The Flexibility of Free Standing Patient Identification in ED or Bedside

The ability to quickly, easily, and accurately identify patients in emergency situations can often be the difference between life and death. Think about identifying an unconscious or unknown patient who arrives in the Emergency Department (ED) with a long medical history that includes medication allergies or important pre-existing conditions. Treating a patient in the absence of this critical health data not only endangers their health, but it presents a huge liability to the hospital should something go wrong based on missing or incomplete information. Not to mention that fact that in healthcare, especially in emergency situations, seconds matter.

Patient registration staff and clinicians both need the convenience and portability of a wireless biometric patient identification device that can be used to quickly determine a patient’s identity at any physical touchpoint along the care continuum. Think for a moment about the importance of verifying a patient’s identity at bedside. Accurate patient identification is not only an important safety protocol, but it also offers a variety of other benefits including:

Innovative wireless patient identification devices increase productivity by saving time without compensating accuracy during the registration process. Characterized by their mobility and efficiency, these devices are configured to seamlessly communicate with biometric patient identification systems integrated with electronic health record (EHR) platforms to ensure 100% accuracy.

Conclusion

Wireless devices are revolutionizing patient identification in healthcare by combining the speed and accuracy of biometrics with a convenient and portable design that eliminates the frustration of maneuvering cumbersome COWs and WOWs and the restrictions of USB connected devices. Specifically designed to ensure patient safety, lower hospital liability, and strengthen and sustain patient data integrity, wireless patient identification devices almost seem to be a “must have” for any hospital that is vested in ensuring the highest quality care, especially amid challenging conditions. 

Interested in learning more? Drop us a note and we will be happy to set up a no obligation demo to show you firsthand how these devices operate, and provide more details about the advantages.

Brad Marshall works for RightPatient - the industry's best biometric patient identification solution.Brad 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.

the use of biometrics to secure PHI access

Improving Patient Engagement with Secure PHI Access

the use of biometrics to secure PHI access

The explosion of mHealth apps and patient portals for PHI access demands more modern patient and clinician identification technologies than user names and passwords.

The following guest post was submitted by Michael Trader, President and Co-Founder of RightPatient®

The rise of digital health tools for PHI access

Encouraging patients to take a more active and engaged role in their healthcare has been a key focus of healthcare providers in the wake of Meaningful Use requirements. What began as an industry mission with specific benchmarks and goals has since manifested into the actual use of myriad digital tools and platforms that are educating, engaging, and working to empower patients to increase accountability and responsibility for their own health and, when applicable, the health of their families. In fact, a recent HIMSS survey on how mobile apps and portals improve patient engagement indicated that on the provider side:

  • 73% of organizations used app-enabled patient portals to increase consumer participation in their overall health and wellness goals as well as meet relevant Stage 2 and Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.
  • Nearly half of those polled stated that “implementation of mobile services for access to information is a high priority at their organization.” Additionally, more than half – 57 percent – indicated that their facility implements a mobile technology policy, which often has a focus on mobile health security capabilities.
  • About one-third of polled healthcare organizations stated that they provide “organizational-specific apps” to the patient community.

(source: http://mhealthintelligence.com/news/how-mobile-health-apps-portals-improve-patient-engagement) 

One important facet in the goal to improve patient engagement is providing easier and faster access to personal health information (PHI). Manifested through Meaningful Use Stage 2, the benchmark is stated as:

Provide patients the ability to view online, download and transmit their health information within four business days of the information being available to the EP. (source: http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/achieve-meaningful-use/core-measures-2/patient-ability-electronically-view-download-transmit-vdt-health-information

The idea is for healthcare providers to reach beyond traditional means of accessing PHI (think in person visits) and adopt digital health tools for easier, faster, and more convenient ways of accessing this data (think patient portals and provider mHealth apps). In concept, increasing the availability of tools and platforms to access PHI is a good thing — it caters to increasing patient demand to offer greater PHI accessibility through resources that offer more convenience and are in lockstep with the rise of the digital health movement. However, the explosion of digital tools for PHI access carries an inherent risk that patient identities will be compromised, stolen, or shared leading to a sharp increase in fraud and medical ID theft that poses a direct threat to not only patient safety and provider medical error liability, but also to the rising cost of healthcare. Not to mention the fact that the rising use of digital tools to access PHI compromises patient data integrity which is critical to maintain because of the ripple effect it has on the ability to provide accurate care along the continuum and the confidence it represents to successfully participate in health information exchanges (HIEs).  

Keep in mind that each time a perpetrator commits healthcare fraud or medical ID theft, the fallout of legal fees, settlement costs, and expenses to restore an identity are passed down to ALL patients in the form of higher fees for medical services. Therefore, collectively there is a pressing need to ensure that adoption of stricter and more secure methods of patient identification must run parallel to the rise in digital tools and platforms for safe access to PHI. Otherwise, patients may not be as willing to use these tools for fear of medical ID theft or unlawful access to their PHI data which directly compromises their safety, security, and privacy. 

Monetary damages are only the tip of the iceberg for healthcare organizations when discussing the impact of fraud and medical ID theft. It was been well documented that reputation can be negatively effected when patients perceive or a data breach confirms that healthcare providers are not taking the necessary action to increase PHI access security.

How can we correlate an increase in quality patient engagement with secure PHI access? Patient engagement is, without a doubt, a key linchpin to the success of healthcare’s triple aim. Simply stated, it is not possible for the healthcare industry to achieve the goals of lower costs, an enhanced patient experience, and improving population health in the absence of strong and sustainable patient engagement.

Securing PHI access for higher levels of patient engagement

Scour the internet for articles that cover patient willingness to use digital health IT tools to access PHI and you will discover that despite the industry wide effort to adopt tools that provide more convenient and faster access to medical data, few patients are actually doing so. In fact, a recent survey revealed that just 21% of respondents said they use the Web to access their health data. Meanwhile, 10% said they use e-mail and 40% view the data in person

The reason behind patient unwillingness to use mHealth tools and portals for PHI access runs the gamut from dissatisfaction with mobile health applications to challenges in finding and using instructions, data inaccuracy, and device malfunctions or data syncing issues. Furthermore, issues related to poor mHealth app and portal security have hampered more widespread adoption of these tools and stoked patient fears that their privacy could be compromised by using them.

Setting aside those with opinions that privacy can never exist in the healthcare industry, the link between patient confidence and trust that their identities and PHI are protected when using mHealth apps or patient portals is palatable and has a direct effect on their willingness to use these tools as part of their overall care.

First, it’s important to distinguish the difference between “privacy” and “security” as it applies to healthcare data. HIMSS does an excellent job of breaking down the differences:

“Privacy” is the right of an individual to make choices with respect to the collection, use and disclosure of their data; “security” is the safeguards – physical, administrative and technological – used to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the data. Because the challenges are many, there is a tendency to focus on “security” in mHealth. Patient privacy cannot be achieved without adequate data safeguards; however secure devices do not necessarily preserve patient privacy. (source: http://www.himss.org/ResourceLibrary/GenResourceDetail.aspx?ItemNumber=30406

One of the largest impediments to widespread adoption of mHealth tools, portals, and other digital health platforms is inadequate mobile security policies that fail to take into account the necessity of adopting more modern patient identification tools that are commensurate to the data they protect.  For example, most healthcare providers continue to use user name and passwords to protect patient identities when using mHealth tools and portals. While these may have once been permissible security protocols in the past, these identity verification methods are now considered antiquated and should be replaced. Even though user names and passwords have proven to no longer be secure enough to protect patient identities, almost all healthcare providers still rely on their use for mHealth apps and patient portals. 

Secure PHI access requires modern patient and clinician ID technology

If healthcare providers expect patients to adopt mHealth tools and patient portals as a more convenient way to access PHI, the implementation of stronger and more secure identification technology is critical. Most healthcare security experts agree that due to the large amount of PHI data moving across provider locations via mHealth apps and patient portals, stronger security is needed to prevent data breaches if a patient’s identity is compromised. Plus, the increasing complexity of mHealth apps and their distinct ability to sync PHI data across multiple devices raises important questions about how to properly protect patient privacy  to ensure HIPAA compliance for these new tools. 

Securing PHI access is not limited to patient interactions with mHealth tools or patient portals however. A sound strategy to secure mobile and remote access to this sensitive data is required not only for patients, but also for any clinician that has access to mobile technologies. A 2014 HIMSS Analytics Mobile device study reported that:

…approximately one-quarter of US hospitals (28 percent) reported that smartphones are in use at their organization. On average, 169 devices are deployed per hospital. In comparison, 24 percent of US hospitals reported that tablet computers are in use at their organization, with an average of 37 devices deployed per hospital. (source – https://capsite.himssanalytics.org/assets/Uploads/2014-Mobile-Essentials-Brief-TOC12914.pdf)

Healthcare organizations must plan to implement a technology that has the flexibility to be used for secure patient and clinician identification, usually through a strategic combination of a strong single sign-on (SSO) platform to establish strict identification checks and provide a concrete audit trail of data access history with an enterprise-wide patient ID solution to secure remote access to PHI from mHealth apps and patient portals. The modern identification technology of choice for many healthcare providers to meet the rising demand for tighter security to access PHI is biometrics.

Lack of a strong PHI access policy can also have a negative impact on provider reputation. In a recent report on medical identity theft by The Ponemon Institute, 79% of patients surveyed said it is “very important” for healthcare providers to ensure the privacy of health records and allow them to have direct control of their health records.  

Why biometrics?

The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires healthcare organizations to secure remote access to PHI data as a safeguard for patient privacy and to eliminate data breaches that can lead to fraud and medical identity theft. Once considered secure identification criteria, user names and passwords are now considered antiquated and unable to offer strong protection to secure PHI access largely due to the fact that:

  • Most patients don’t want to worry about memorizing a complex password and thus default to using a simplistic password that’s easily guessable.
  • Most patients use the same password for many accounts, resulting in one key that unlocks dozens (or hundreds) of doors.
  • Most patients don’t even keep their passwords in secret. Everything from Netflix accounts to bank accounts to web accounts to video game accounts are often shared between friends, family members, and even strangers.

The use of biometrics for individual identification poses a much more secure and flexible technology to address the pressing need for healthcare to adopt stricter PHI access security protocols. Why?

We have written extensively about the applicability of biometric patient identification to improve patient safety in healthcare. Biometrics relies on identifying patients and clinicians by who they are, rather than what they have (ID badges) or what they know (user names, passwords) which can be more easily stolen or shared. Biometric identification technology is a more secure method to identify patients in self-driven interactions by allowing them to use the camera or microphone on their smartphone or tablet and use facial or voice recognition biometrics for accurate authentication. Biometrics offers more flexibility and convenience because it has the ability to be implemented at patient touchpoints where user name and password entry would be cumbersome and inappropriate — home health settings for example.   

The use of biometrics for identification also offers a concrete PHI access audit trail, a more accurate tracking mechanism than user names or passwords which can easily be shared and often skew analytics because it’s impossible to determine the actual individual using the credentials. This is important because litigation often relies on these audit trails used in the defense of medical identity theft or healthcare fraud claims.

Conclusion

Participation in portals and the use of mHealth and other mobile apps to access PHI is a key catayst to increase patient engagement in healthcare. Patients must have the confidence in their healthcare provider that their PHI is easily accessible and protected with the strongest authentication security on the market that ensures their privacy and safety. User names and passwords are no longer sufficient authentication credentials to meet the expanding need to offer a more flexible, scalable, and more secure identification technology for mHealth apps and patient portals.

Equally important is protecting clinician access to sensitive PHI data. Protocols must be implemented that abandon user names and passwords in favor of technologies such as biometrics that are more secure, less susecptible to being stolen or shared, and leave a concrete PHI data access audit trail. 

Have questions about the use of biometrics for patient identification in healthcare? Feel free to leave a comment or question below.