opioid abuse epidemic

Reducing opioid abuse by knowing the right patient

The US is enduring a massive opioid abuse epidemic. Not only are they widely prescribed, but prescription opioids are now more widely abused than street drugs. If we look at the anatomy of the opioid crisis, it is genuinely frightening. In 2016, 116 people died each day due to opioid overdose, resulting in more than 42,000 fatalities in a single year.

The question is, why is this happening? How are 11.5 million individuals misusing prescription opioids? How is it that each year, 2.1 million people misuse opioids for the first time? It seems that, at present, there is no clear path to stunting this epidemic. Opioid abuse is already costing the US economy more than half a billion dollars annually.

How did we get to this point?

Since the 1990s, the pharmaceutical industry started pushing opioids and assured doctors that these drugs were safe. Consequently, doctors began widespread prescription of these drugs. However, blaming the pharmaceuticals industry and doctors alone ignores many other pertinent factors.

There have been many changes regarding the prevalence of various diseases over the last three decades. Slowly and steadily, medicine has become dominated by chronic and painful health conditions. It is estimated that one-third or the U.S. population or 100 million Americans are living with a chronic and acute pain condition. Among them, one-fifth are living with moderate to severe pain. Considering these statistics, it follows that opioids would be widely prescribed. However, 8-12 percent of those prescribed opioids result in patients developing an addiction.

Opioid misuse is not just limited to those living with painful conditions. Many of the prescribed opioids end up in the wrong hands. Many addicted to opiates hide their identity or medical conditions and visit various clinics under different aliases. For doctors, it is challenging to identify the right patient.

How can we reverse the epidemic?

To bend the trend downwards, efforts must be implemented at every level. At the community level, we must educate the public and raise awareness about the health risks of opioid abuse. Policymakers should advance legislation to address the problem. Above all, there is a need to change the way medicine is practiced; healthcare providers must take higher precautions at the clinical level.

Clinicians cannot and should not deprive people in pain from drugs that can bring them needed comfort. However, big data and technology can assist them in differentiating between the right patient and the wrong one. This is where RightPatient can play a vital role. Powered by artificial intelligence, the platform can help clinicians to thwart medical identity fraud and ensure that a patient’s complete and accurate medical history can be retrieved.

By recognizing the correct patient, clinicians can better understand the validity of patient complaints along with a patient’s disease history. When and where was the patient last prescribed an opioid? Did the patient rightly identify himself/herself?

RightPatient can be one way to prevent opioid abuse.

RightPatient augments population health investments

How Can You Protect Your Investment in a Population Health Solution?

Healthcare in the U.S. is going to see a paradigm shift in the next five years that will move it from a fee-for-service (FFS) payment model towards a value-based model. Simply said, those who produce better results and improve patient quality of care at lower costs will reap higher dividends. This shift will require better use of technology and significant changes to many platforms and their capabilities, including more investment in big data, analytics, and patient matching systems. These investments in population health management technologies will provide the real-time information needed to make more informed decisions.

Population health solutions play a critical role in moving healthcare from a treatment-based to a prevention-based model. These platforms enable providers to better prepare for patient-reported outcomes, provide data regarding social determinants of health and activity-based costing, and match extracted data outcomes with the right patient.

Current state of U.S. healthcare

The U.S. spends more on healthcare per capita than any other nation in the world but fails to produce better results for life expectancy and other health outcomes. Moreover, U.S. taxpayers fund more per capita on healthcare (64%) than those in other countries, including those with universal health programs.

These facts suggest that encounter-based medicine might be contributing to sub-optimal results in the U.S. and there is a need for change. That change is prompting the rise of population health management and data analytics technologies.

The population-based model is based on aggregating patient data across various health information resources, forming a comprehensive, longitudinal health record for each patient, and leveraging analytics to produce insights that clinical teams can use to improve care and lower costs. In addition to health and financial data derived from electronic health records (EHRs) and medical claims, information such as a patient’s socio-economic status, personal support network, and habitat conditions can be useful in building preventative care strategies.

For example, a patient diagnosed as prediabetes would be classified as high-risk in an encounter-based model. However, this does not take into consideration the patient’s lifestyle and behavioral patterns. Many prediabetics can avoid developing diabetes by modifying habits such as diet and exercise. Patients who smoke, abuse drugs, or have a sedentary lifestyle are much more at risk of developing the disease. Identifying these genuinely high-risk patients requires access to accurate data that is linked to the correct record. 

Challenges in moving to a population health solution

At present, a tremendous amount of patient data is available but it is not unified – it exists within different institutions and across various platforms. Thus, the available information is very difficult to match with the right patient (if not impossible in some cases) and such data has little practical value. Population health solutions need a system that can match patients with their available data and provide information on the best recommendations for preventative care, helping to improve outcomes and save resources.

Therefore, the most important variable in extracting value from a population health solution is ensuring that a patient’s captured data is matched to the correct record. Better data warehousing and mining capabilities will serve no purpose if healthcare providers lack the ability to match the output with the right patient. At present, not only do patient identification issues exist within a single healthcare institution, but these issues become even worse when patient data is exchanged across multiple systems, with error rates rising to 60%.

Failure to properly identify a patient means loss of historical medical history, social indicators, financial information, medications, allergies, pre-existing conditions, etc. – vital information that puts the patient and healthcare provider at greater risk. These data integrity failures can significantly dilute the efficacy of population health initiatives.

In fact, the transition from fee-for-service to value-based healthcare is only going to work if healthcare entities invest in patient matching technology alongside their investments in big data and analytics platforms. These investments should go hand-in-hand since patient matching errors can have such a substantial impact on data quality.

Population health management is among the top six categories in healthcare that are attracting investments from venture capital firms. Other segments include genomics and sequencing, analytics and big data, wearables and biosensing, telemedicine, and digital medical devices.

Thus, the industry is investing in technologies that will play a significant role in value-based care and population health management. However, the success of any population health initiative depends on the right patient being identified every time so that medical records and the corresponding patient data are not mixed-up. Considering the data fragmentation that exists in healthcare and lack of standards around patient identifiers, AI-based systems like RightPatient® are the only way to ensure reliable identification of patients across various data platforms and maximized investment in population health management.

chart corrections impact healthcare data integrity

How RightPatient Prevents Chart Corrections in Epic and Other EHRs

I’ve visited enough of our customers to know that hospital emergency rooms and free-standing EDs can sometimes be chaotic environments. Unlike most outpatient registration areas, patients who arrive to the ED do not have scheduled appointments and often go through a triage process with a nurse where they are “arrived” within the electronic health record (EHR) system. This is essentially a quick registration that begins the documentation of a patient’s visit information on his/her medical record. Unfortunately, this process often results in what are known as chart corrections.

As one might imagine, a clinician’s primary focus is on the health and safety of the patient. Nurses that triage patients are trying to enter patients into the EHR system so they can receive the appropriate care as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, data entry errors during this process are commonplace. For example, EHR system users may create a “John Doe” or “Jane Doe” medical record if they cannot properly identify the patient. Or, users may mistakenly select the wrong record because it shares a similar name with the patient in need of care.

When EHR users select the wrong patient medical record, all subsequent information pertaining to that visit is entered into that record (sometimes referred to as a medical record “overlay”). This is a data integrity failure and results in data entry errors that need to be resolved with a chart correction. So, a chart correction in the Epic EHR or other EHR systems is the process of fixing a “wrong chart entry” or overlay record that was caused by a patient identification error.

Wrong patient, wrong record data integrity failures within the EHR system can have disastrous consequences. At best, the healthcare provider must spend internal Health Information Management (HIM) resources to perform chart corrections and resolve medical record overlays, costing $60-$100 per hour for an average of 200 hours per overlay record. At worst, wrong patient errors can affect clinical decision making, patient safety, quality of care, and patient lives. This is why organizations like AHIMA have strongly advocated safeguards that healthcare providers can use to prevent medical record mix-ups, improve data integrity, and reduce the risk of adverse events.

RightPatient® is the ideal safeguard to prevent wrong patient medical record errors and chart corrections within Epic and other EHR systems. The AI platform uses cognitive vision to instantly recognize patients when their photo is captured and automatically retrieve the correct medical record. This becomes a seamless module within EHR system workflows so there is no disruption to users.

Customers like University Health Care System in Augusta, GA are effectively using RightPatient® to reduce chart corrections in Epic. In fact, UH saw a 30% reduction in Epic chart corrections within months after implementing RightPatient®. 

Healthcare providers using RightPatient® to capture patient photos significantly reduce their risk of data integrity failures. This enhances patient safety and health outcomes while reducing costs – important goals in the age of population health and value-based care.

value-based-care-right-patient

Value-Based Care: A Patient-Centered Approach Requires Knowing Your Patient

Aspirin, penicillin, monoclonal antibodies, interventional cardiology, and genome editing have undoubtedly revolutionized medicine. However, while all of these have been breakthroughs in the field of medicine, not much has changed in the way that doctors do their jobs. Patients visit their doctors, the doctors diagnose, they recommend tests, they prescribe drugs, and they are compensated according to the volume of work done or the number of procedures performed.

If medicine is to progress in the 21st century, things have to change at every level, including the way that doctors work and receive compensation, the way they identify the right patient, and the way that patients are treated.

The long-awaited system that is going to change the way doctors work and are compensated will soon become a reality. This new system is called value-based care.

Value-based care is about compensating doctors according to outcomes. This encourages more personal attention to patients and transitions the healthcare system from cure-based to preventive medicine. It is a system in which doctors receive a higher level of compensation for either better outcomes from procedures or enabling patients to avoid health-related problems altogether.

There are several benefits of a healthcare system where the right patient gets the right kind of care.

Value-based care can save patients a lot of money. Putting aside the historical projections of healthcare inflation, the U.S. is also facing major epidemics of chronic, non-communicative diseases like diabetes, high-blood pressure, and cancer. It is no secret that many of these ailments are preventable with timely intervention and/or the correct behavior. Value-based care creates an environment where doctors can help patients to avoid these diseases by intervening at the right time. A doctor would identify the right patient to design a prevention plan before a disease can manifest where things become more complicated and expensive.

Once the right patient, a patient with a high risk of developing a chronic illness, has been identified, the doctor would be encouraged to spend more time with her, teaching her to take better care of herself so that complications can be avoided. There would be a reward system for identifying the right patient and taking timely preventative measures. It would also result in higher patient satisfaction.

A value-based care system would also lower drug costs. Historically, manufacturers decide the price of their medications without taking into consideration the value that a particular drug has in terms of its effectiveness and overall patient wellbeing. A value-based system would also encourage the development of personalized medicine where treatment plans and even pharmaceuticals can be tailored to specific patient needs.

The backbone of the value-based care system would be patient identification and data mining. Many are already demonstrating why medicine should incorporate more data-based modeling to augment physician decision-making.  Data mining helps doctors and the healthcare industry as a whole to better understand the outcomes of various therapeutic approaches. Ultimately, it can help to create the right kind of individualized solution for the right patient.

Unfortunately, realizing optimal results from data mining and value-based care has its challenges, especially as healthcare organizations start mining data that has been accumulated over long periods of time. On average, at least 8% of hospital patient records consist of duplicate data. Thus, an intelligent way to sort out these duplications and identify the right patient is desperately needed.

It is stated that value-based care is about the right patient getting the “right care, in the right place and at the right time.” Instead, the maxim should be, “RightPatient® enables the right care, in the right place, at the right time.”

RightPatient® guarantees that a patient medical record is never mixed up with another record and the hospital ecosystem will always recognize the patient with the help of cognitive vision. Mistakes from common patient names, fraud, human error and other issues are always prevented.

As we all know, chains are only as strong as their weakest link. In many hospitals or medical institutions, there is an urgent need to strengthen this weakest link throughout the entire system – overcoming the errors of false identity and data duplication with RightPatient. Only then can the benefits of value-based care and data mining be fully realized.

patient mix-ups

How Big is the Patient Mix-up Problem in the U.S.?

Hollywood has created several films featuring a person that was wrongly informed about cancer or another fatal disease with the patient being told that they only have a few months/days left to live. Upon hearing this news, the patient goes on a spending spree and adventure only to discover in the end that things have been mixed up. This might make for a great movie but in the real world, if such a patient mix-up happens, the outcomes may be far worse. 

But just how frequently does this medical record mix-up problem happen in real life?

It seems that the problem of so-called mistaken patient identity is big enough to cause serious problems – something that is very evident from the article published in the Boston Globe, reporting 14 cases of mistaken identity

Reports indicate that medical errors due to patient mix-ups are a recurrent problem. Consequently, a wrong person may be operated on, the wrong leg may be amputated, the wrong organ may be removed, etc. In fact, CNN reported that in 6.5 years, in Colorado alone, more than 25 cases of surgery on the wrong patient have been reported, apart from more than 100 instances of the wrong body parts being operated on.

It would be challenging to estimate the true total number of patient mix-ups simply because the vast majority of them go unreported until something untoward happens. Even in cases where complications do occur, most medical organizations would not be eager to publicize them. 

Today, it is widely accepted that medical errors are the third largest killer in the U.S.; that is, far more people die of medical errors compared to diseases like pneumonia or emphysema. It is now estimated that more than 700 patients are dying each day due to medical mistakes in U.S. hospitals. This figure clearly indicates that medical errors often occur even though a fraction of them will have fatal outcomes. It also tells us that cases of patient mix-ups may be shockingly high and indeed underreported.

Though several thousand cases of mistaken patient identity have been recorded, it remains the most misunderstood health risk, something that hospitals barely report, and an outcome that patients do not expect to happen.

The U.S. healthcare system is extremely complex, making it challenging for a single solution to resolve this issue. There have been lots of efforts to implement a unique identity number for each patient (a national identifier) but political roadblocks have proven difficult to navigate. The chances are bleak that any such national system would be created, as patients remain profoundly worried about the privacy of their data.

At present, perhaps the best option is that each hospital finds its own way to solve this problem by developing some internal system to make sure that patient mix-ups don’t happen. Or, a better idea is to leave this task to the professional organizations that specialize in the business of improving patient identification. The RightPatient® Smart App is a perfect example of an innovative solution that is powered by deep learning and artificial intelligence to turn any device like a tablet or smartphone into a powerful tool to completely eliminate the problem of mistaken patient identity.

Technological solutions are often meant to augment human efforts, not to replace them. Here are some of the ways to avoid patient mix-ups:

  • Always confirm two unique patient identifiers within the EHR (Electronic Health Record), like patient name and identity number.  Though this is a standard practice, many mistakes still occur due to similar first or last names. Thus, an app like RightPatient can help to eliminate the chances of such an error.
  • Two identifications should be used for all critical processes.
  • There must be a system to alert staff if two patients have a similar first or last name.
  • Avoid placing patients with similar names in the same room.

Although patient misidentification and medical record mix-ups continue to plague the U.S. healthcare system, there is hope to address this serious issue with solutions like RightPatient. Now, we just need healthcare providers to make this a priority and take action. 

using biometrics for patient identification to increase patient safety

Patient Identification Deployment Video: Community Medical Centers

using biometrics for patient identification to increase patient safety

Community Medical Centers implemented RightPatient using photo biometrics for patient identification to increase patient safety. (Photo courtesy of Community Medical Centers).

There are myriad reasons why a healthcare organization seeks to implement a biometric patient identification solution. It could be to prevent duplicate medical records. Or, perhaps to increase revenue cycle management efficiency and returns. Maybe it’s in an effort to better protect patient medical identities. Whatever the reason, there is one recurring theme that is a constant in all biometric patient ID deployments – increasing patient safety.

A desire to improve patient safety by ensuring accurate patient identification was an important underlying goal for Community Medical Centers (CMC) when they made the decision to invest in RightPatient. Staff at CMC knew that RightPatient was an important part of their overall strategy to prevent medical record mix-ups and protect patients from error.

The staff at CMC assembled a video overview of their RightPatient deployment providing insight into the enrollment process and factors that led to their implementation decision:

 

As explained in the video, RightPatient is an image-based patient identification solution – a non-invasive, hygienic (non-contact), and easy-to-use technology that instantly links a patient’s photo to their unique medical record. In the case of CMC and many other RightPatient customers, the software becomes a seamless module of the Epic EHR workflows through a low-level integration.

Backed by 15 years of experience in biometric technology, RightPatient remains the industry’s most versatile and scalable biometric patient safety system, leveraging a powerful cloud-based intelligence engine to recognize patients by simply capturing their photo.

Our thanks to the staff at CMC for creating this patient identification deployment overview video!

If you want more information or would like to see a demo of RightPatient, please contact us.

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. 

identifying the right patient in healthcare increases patient safety

Ensuring the Right Patient in Healthcare

identifying the right patient in healthcare increases patient safety

Joe Lavelle with IntrepidNow Healthcare recently interviewed our Co-Founder Michael Trader to discuss the current state of patient identification in healthcare. (Photo re-used with permission from IntrepidNow Healthcare.)

Our thanks to Joe Lavelle and his staff at IntrepidNow Healthcare for the opportunity to appear on his podcast to discuss the current state of identifying the right patient in healthcare. Although accurate identification in healthcare to determine the right patient at all points along the care continuum continues to surge as a focal point for organizations to increase patient safety and improve data integrity, there is still a lot of unanswered questions about how to develop and implement an industry wide solution that has the ubiquity and scale for use by everyone.

Additional topics covered during the podcast include:

  1. The importance of establishing remote patient identification for touchpoints along the care continuum beyond in-person visits such as patient portals, connected health apps, home health visits, telemedicine, and more.
  2. Why establishing a holistic patient identification strategy is now required in healthcare.
  3. Details on the RightPatient® cloud software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform.
  4. Why photo biometrics is hands down the most effective, secure, flexible, scalable, and hygienic solution to determine the right patient in healthcare.
  5. Updates on CHIME’s national patient ID contest.
  6. What additional elements are needed to advance discussion of accurate patient identification in healthcare to a congressional level.
  7. RightPatient®’s plans for the upcoming HIMSS conference in Orlando.

As we approach the annual HIMSS conference, it’s important to continue dialogue and advancing initiatives that show promise to resolving the patient identification crisis in healthcare. Identifying the right patient at the outset of each encounter with the healthcare system ensures the success for many other downstream activities and is the only true way to improve and maintain data integrity — the true linchpin for interoperability and health information exchange.

We invite you to visit RightPatient® in the GA Health IT Pavilion, Booth #3015 at the HIMSS conference to see firsthand how adding cognitive vision to a healthcare technology ecosystem improves revenue cycle management and secures a patient portal, among many other uses. 

Here is our Co-Founder Michael Trader’s conversation with Joe Lavelle from IntrepidNow Healthcare: 

Thank you again to Joe Lavelle and his staff for this opportunity!

use patient photos to increase patient safety in healthcare

Why Patient Photos Should Be Linked to Medical Records

use patient photos to increase patient safety in healthcare

Why aren’t more healthcare providers capturing patient photos during registration?

The following post on why patient photos should be added to medical records to improve patient safety was submitted by Michael Trader, President and Co-Founder of RightPatient®

The Push to Increase Patient ID Accuracy and Safety

Achieving accurate patient identification in healthcare is an important catalyst to ensure safe, cost-effective care delivery. Although we believe that accurate patient ID should have received more attention and scrutiny parallel to the rapid digitization of the healthcare industry, the issue has finally been thrust into the spotlight by powerful organizations such as AHIMA, the ONC, and CHIME as something that must be solved in order for other mandates (e.g. interoperability, health information exchange, population health, etc.) to materialize. 

Many healthcare organizations have proactively addressed the lingering issue of accurate patient identification by implementing new technologies that supplement existing methods of obtaining demographic information, insurance cards, and proof of ID. The idea is to add biometrics as an added layer of identity protection, security, and identification accuracy by asking patients to provide a physiological token prior to accessing health data and/or medical services. Biometrics for patient ID has rapidly caught on as a proven method to prevent fraud and medical ID theft, improve data integrity, prevent duplicate medical records, and safeguard protected health information (PHI).

Patient Photos Should be Captured During Registration

Despite the rising demand for biometric patient identification to improve patient identification and increase safety, not all solutions are created equal. Healthcare organizations that invest in unilateral biometric patient identification solutions quickly discover that they do not have the ability to easily and automatically capture the patient photo during registration and subsequent visits. This is unfortunate as the photo plays an important role in patient safety and in driving additional value throughout the ecosystem.

In addition, capturing the patient photo with a web camera during initial registration is not enough. This method often produces very poor quality photos, adds an extra step to the process, and the photos cannot be relied upon for other potential uses, such as facial recognition to verify patient identities during remote encounters. 

One important differentiator that should be considered when researching a biometric ID solution is whether or not it offers the ability to capture a high-quality patient photo and recognize the patient in a single step. Why?

  • Patient photos are proven to reduce medical errors.
  • Respected, influential healthcare organizations recommend including patient photos with their medical record.
  • Patient photos increase patient safety.
  • Photos can be used as a second credential for multi-factor patient authentication.
  • The photo serves as a visual reminder to the provider, thereby enhancing caregiver communication with the patient.
  • High-quality patient photos allow healthcare providers to leverage facial recognition for accurate patient ID when patient’s access PHI or services in non-traditional settings such as mHealth apps, patient portals, and telemedicine. This enables a holistic approach to establishing accurate patient ID because it addresses all points along the care continuum instead of a narrow approach that only covers patient ID at the point of service in a brick and mortar setting.
  • In areas like the ED where time is critical, utilizing a web camera and adding an extra step in the workflow is impractical and inefficient.

Criteria that Defines an Effective Biometric Patient ID Solution

In addition to the points mentioned above and the standard questions that should be asked when researching the adoption of a biometric patient ID solution, we recommend that healthcare providers seriously consider the unique value of a platform like RightPatient® that seamlessly captures patient photos and identifies patients in a single step during registration, subsequent visits to a medical facility, and other touchpoints along the care continuum. This establishes a concrete, two-factor audit trail of patient visit activity and identity assurance.

Verify that the biometric patient ID solution offers the following patient photo capture features:

  • Convenience – Is the patient photo capture process easy and convenient for patients and staff? Photo capture should happen simultaneously with capturing their biometric credentials and should be fast. Otherwise, you run into delays and registration roadblocks in areas like the emergency room where time is of the essence.
  • Seamless integration and functionality – Patient identification and photo capture should be a seamless part of EHR workflow and not require staff to sign in and out of applications or constantly toggle between applications. 
  • Affordability – Biometric patient ID platforms that offer simultaneous photo capture should be flexible and affordable and offer a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model option.

Conclusion

Capturing patient photos to increase safety and reduce medical costs is not a new concept in healthcare, yet it has failed to become mainstream compared to other industries. In fact, according to a recent report from the ECRI, despite the proven research that photos increase safety and engagement, only 20% of existing providers currently use patient photos. 20%! Think about that in the context of other industries that have used customer photos as part of their routine identification security protocols for years: membership management (e.g. gyms, fitness clubs), banking and finance, retail, education, government — the list is long.

If other industries have relied on the use of photos to augment identification accuracy, why is healthcare so far behind the curve? It seems as if healthcare market conditions and current and future initiatives to improve delivery, achieve better outcomes, perfect individual and population health, and reduce the cost of care are setting the stage for technology that can quickly and seamlessly capture patient photos as part of the identification process. The question is, are you investing in the right solution to harness this power?

using patient photos to increase patient safety in healthcareMichael Trader is President and Co-Founder of RightPatient®. Michael is responsible for overseeing business development and marketing activities, government outreach, and for providing senior leadership on business and policy issues.

 

using biometrics for patient ID in healthcare

4 Ways Tech Has Changed How Healthcare Providers Handle Patient ID Protocols

using biometrics for patient ID in healthcare

Learn more about patient ID technologies and their impact on patient safety in healthcare.

The following post on patient ID in healthcare was submitted by Anica Oaks.

Methods of patient identification are critical to matching patients with their intended treatment in busy healthcare facilities. The failure to accomplish this has led to some serious consequences for patients and providers alike, in the form of unnecessary surgeries and wrong patient amputations resulting in a marked rise of lawsuits and malpractice insurance costs. Here are some technical solutions that healthcare professionals are looking at to help solve this problem.

1. Barcodes
Barcodes offer a convenient and cost-effective approach to establishing patient identity. New patients are entered into the system and issued a bar-coded ID bracelet which can be read by scanners at various locations during treatment, and automatically checked against patient databases. The same barcode can be printed on other documentation to be sure there is a match between the ID bracelet and any medications, test results, or scheduled treatments.

2. RFID Chips
Radio Frequency ID (RFID) chips emitting a unique signal are being touted as a better alternative to barcodes. These can be embedded in wristbands, hospital beds, or patient ID badges. Sensors reading this signal can generate the matching patient records on electronic devices. One advantage over barcodes is that chips can be read from a greater distance; sensors placed throughout the facility can also monitor patient movements for safety and security. RFID chips are also harder to duplicate. For this reason they are advocated by the FDA.

3. Staff Training
Identifying patients and administering ID protocols both upon admission and before receiving treatment typically falls to the nursing staff. Today’s nurses must be technically as well as medically trained to be effective in using the various patient ID technologies. A modern ADN to MSN online program (Associate Degree in Nursing to Master of Science in Nursing) better prepares nurses to understand and apply the technologies in use.

4. Biometrics
Using biometric devices is a fairly new but effective means of positive patient identification. Patient ID in healthcare now offers biometric devices that read iris patterns or even facial structure and are then matched against existing patient data to easily confirm identities. Barcodes or RFIDs leave room for error. A biometric characteristic, however, has only one possible match. Though these systems are more expensive to implement, their reliability and ease of use may be a wise investment.

Healthcare facilities today are faced with the need for stricter standards of patient identification. This is not just to safeguard patient health and professional integrity, but to guard against fraudulent use of ID to obtain drugs or free medical treatment. Today’s technology seems to finally be up to the challenge.

Anica is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.