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unique patient identifier in healthcare

Why should the Senate choose biometrics as a unique patient identifier?

Unique patient identifiers have been talked about several times, not only in this space but also everywhere else in the US- especially quite recently. This is because there have been positive signs which might finally grant the health systems and hospitals alike with the mythical unique patient identifier, which is sorely needed in the healthcare industry for positive patient identification. But why is it so badly needed? What are the problems faced due to patient misidentification? What will be the benefits? What can be a viable unique patient identifier in healthcare? Let’s explore these questions.

unique patient identifier in healthcare

One does not need even to imagine losing someone close and dear due to patient misidentification- these stories have been all over the news for years, and there’s no stopping them, unfortunately. Whenever you turn on the television or watch healthcare-related news on your smartphone or tablet, you’ll see at least one problem which has been caused by patient misidentification. It might be medical ID theft, insurance fraud, patient mix-up, a denied claim, or in extreme cases, death. These are just some of the real-life examples which have occurred over the years and are also very valid reasons why a proper patient identification system should be in place for health systems all over the US. For instance, there was once a case where a patient was misidentified and was denied care due to the wrong medical record being pulled. Or, take the opioid crisis- an addictive medication can inadvertently be suggested to patients who are addicts. 

These are scenarios that could have easily been avoided if only the patients were identified accurately and matched with their appropriate records. Over one hundred health systems are already doing that, but more on that later. Thanks to the recent talks regarding UPIs, the US Senate has a unique chance to do something about it and save lives as well as healthcare costs. It has the opportunity to do that when the members get to vote on Senate Fiscal Year 2020 Labor, Health & Human Services, & Education & Related Agencies Appropriations bill. Back in June, positive news spread throughout the news portals that the House of Representatives passed an amendment regarding the removal of the old ban on the creation of an effective UPI that can be used across the health systems of the US. However, everything now rests on the US Senate to make this a reality by creating a UPI or adopting something across the lines which have been helping to identify patients accurately.

What happened previously?

It has been around twenty years since the previous talks regarding unique patient identifiers occurred, which have resulted in zero progress. This has caused major problems regarding patient misidentification like medical errors, as well as insurance fraud, medical ID theft, and in extreme cases, and deaths of unfortunate patients. Earlier, patient misidentifications were overlooked, but recently, everyone recognizes it as a serious threat to patient safety- even a prominent entity like the ECRI institute has listed patient misidentification as one of the biggest impediments to effective patient safety.

Why should the Senate choose biometrics as a unique patient identifier?
Why should the Senate choose biometrics as a unique patient identifier?

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

However, that’s not all. The absence of a proper patient identification system also causes problems for healthcare providers, as well. As previously mentioned, insurance frauds, as well as denied claims, and increased losses are quite common issues for health systems, hospitals, and physician practices, as well as ACOs. Conventional EHRs have also shown an absence of interoperability, due to which the healthcare providers cannot share the same information regarding the same patient who may need to go to different health systems for various ailments.

Some statistics

A study conducted in 2016 states that patient misidentification costs any given healthcare provider approximately $17.4 million yearly, as a result of denied claims, thus cutting down their revenue. According to the study, the more pressing issue is that these misidentifications not only cause losses but also hamper patient safety. The same survey states that 26% of the sample had witnessed a medical error firsthand or at least have known about it, which were generated by misidentifications.

What should be the unique patient identifier in healthcare?

Thus, it is seen how vital an effective patient identification system is for the healthcare industry. But what should the Senate choose as a unique patient identifier in healthcare and why? RightPatient is the answer. It is a biometric patient identification system that over one hundred respectable health systems are using, such as Novant Health, Duke Health, UMC, and TGMC. All of them are providing the same feedback- better patient experience, enhanced patient safety, and improved patient matching, all of which lead to reduced duplicate medical records as well as reduced insurance fraud. A patient only needs to register into RightPatient using their biometric data like their fingerprints or irises- afterward, they are identified within seconds, and their appropriate medical record is pulled from the EHR system. Thus, RightPatient seems like the perfect candidate to be a unique patient identifier in healthcare since it has the capability as well as the experience and proven track record to be one.

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Why a Unique Patient Identifier is so important in the healthcare industry?

Not a day goes by when we do not hear of patient identification errors– this has been plaguing the healthcare industry for a prolonged period of time; since the dawn of healthcare, patient misidentification has been present, and it still is, even to this very day. Accurate patient identification is of paramount importance – so much so, that it has forced the Joint Commission to prioritize patient identification as the first patient safety goal during 2014, and this has continued ever since. However, a unique patient identifier is yet to be found, funded, and determined due to privacy issues when it was first proposed.

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Back when a unique patient identifier was initially proposed, it was thought to be integral for valid patient identification, since accurate patient matching will help reduce medical errors as well as costs incurred from misidentifications- speeding up the processes leading to improved and coordinated care. This is one of the reasons why UPIs are in the news again, regarding the abolishment of the ban on funds to create a unique patient identifier. However, this has yet to be processed, and it will be a long time into the future before it will see the light of day. Let’s focus on the here and now- what are these UPIs, and why are they so sought after? Let’s analyze.

If a standardized patient identification system were used nationwide, each patient would have a unique ID with which their healthcare providers, insurance companies, as well as other relevant parties will be able to identify the patients accurately, so that they would be able to manage all  relevant information without mixing it up with someone else’s information. In times of necessity, this information can also be shared with other parties; for instance, if the patient goes to some other care provider. This can be done confidently and error-free using the unique patient identifier. These are only a few of the benefits of UPI. However, enjoying such benefits in the USA is still a dream.

The USA is one of the only developed countries in the world which does not utilize a UPI. The usage of UPIs varies from country to country; whenever the need has arisen, countries have implemented some form of UPI which could easily be used by everyone involved in the healthcare sector and sped up the identification process by simplifying it. However, it is badly needed in the US, and it looks like it is nowhere near being available shortly.

A single entity does not provide healthcare to an individual patient- it is a complex process where many parties are involved in providing healthcare services to the patients in exchange for their hard-earned money. Thus, it means that teamwork is very crucial in this industry so that the providers do not mix up the patients and provide consistent care.

Why a Unique Patient Identifier is so important in the healthcare industry?
Why a Unique Patient Identifier is so important in the healthcare industry?

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

From a patient’s perspective, it would be extremely beneficial for them if a standardized patient identification system is chosen which will be used to treat them, bill them, and apply for all other formalities, so that everything is concise and present at one place, and so that the same set of data is available whenever their records are brought up. This will also help increase coordinated care so that if a patient has multiple healthcare providers for his/her different ailments, everyone can access the same level of data. For instance, everyone can access the same set of test results, medical records, and other relevant data regarding the patient. 

So, what can be a UPI? RightPatient seems to be a perfect candidate for becoming a unique patient identifier for the US healthcare system. It already has a lot of users, and all of them are reporting the same results- positive patient identification, enhanced patient safety, as well as improved patient experience. RightPatient focuses on biometrics, especially iris scanning, and once the patients are registered, all they need to do is look into the camera, and they are accurately matched with their medical records within seconds. A lot of health systems have used it to reduce losses by reducing misidentifications as well as insurance frauds. Not only does it speed up patient identifications, which earlier took forever, but it also cuts costs and helps save millions of dollars for the health systems using it.

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What are health systems doing to improve the patient experience?

Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of competition present in the healthcare industry. To stay ahead, loyalty and patient experience are must-have attributes for any given healthcare provider. In some cases, healthcare can indeed be consumer-driven; for instance, take patient engagement. According to a recent study, patients are five times more likely to choose the health system with whom they have had positive experiences, rather than those who attempt to attract new patients with their marketing strategies. This study demonstrates that patient loyalty and positive patient experience are the characteristics to strive for, which is why healthcare providers are looking for strategies to improve the patient experience.

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Thanks to many tools which are improving patient outcomes, patients today are anticipating effective and seamless patient experiences. However, these tools and strategies have to be patient-centric to be successful, as well as being competent enough to induce loyalty, and the most necessary characteristic is trust. Without trust, no health system can survive, let alone be successful, in the long run. Thus, healthcare providers are increasingly focusing on constantly revamping and helps to improve the patient experience.

Healthcare providers are improving the patient experience by focusing on the following.

Patient engagement technologies

Patient engagement is a buzzword recently, and everyone is pursuing ways to improve it within their health systems. Why is this so? Because it is one of the core characteristics which contributes to not only improving the patient experience but also assisting in patient retention. There are a plethora of solutions available in health systems under the umbrella of patient engagement, like health programs, surveys, participative courses, and so on. However, therein lies the problem- the solutions are many, and only a very few are effective as patients deem most as unnecessary and tedious. These are termed so by the patients because these tools’ functionalities are mostly unclear- many overpromise while delivering minimal benefits. To find patient engagement tools which are useful, health systems are diving deep into the technological side of the healthcare industry. Thus, active patient engagement is powered by technologies which help to connect the patients with their health systems seamlessly and assist the patients in leading healthy lifestyles.

Even though many would go for surveys, participative courses, and similar patient engagement strategies, research has shown that these are not very effective. Most of the time, patients are absentminded while answering, and as long as they do not see the potential benefits of these tools, they will not be interested in participating wholeheartedly.

What are health systems doing to improve the patient experience?

Patient Retention App

Retain patients, improve wellness, and keep your brand connected

On the other hand, there have been quite a few advancements in technologies which are helping to effectively engage with patients, such as patient retention apps like CircleCare. It is an app that helps patients stay connected to their health systems and doubles as a patient engagement platform. Once a healthcare provider registers with CircleCare, all it needs to do is refer the patient to download it and register. After that, patients can effectively engage in several ways with their health systems, and not only that, they can also work on leading healthier lifestyles. It can be used to track steps, schedule medicine reminders, record blood pressure, record glucose level, and exchange relevant health information with other individuals. It also helps them to stay connected to the physicians, so that if a problem arises, it can be solved outside the hospital’s premises as long as it is not critical. These functions help in cutting down hospital readmissions, as well.

Improving patient safety

Patient safety is currently one of the biggest concerns of the healthcare industry, especially those linked with patient identification errors. Recent surveys, statistics, and studies have shown that patient misidentification is a multibillion-dollar issue. Since the introduction of EHRs, things have gotten worse. To put things into perspective, the identification and correction of a single duplicate record cost around $1000, whereas if there are multiple records attached, it requires a whopping $5000 for any given health system! So, how are healthcare systems avoiding these patient matching errors? They are adopting technologies which are helping to eliminate these errors- solutions like RightPatient. RightPatient is a biometric patient identification system that utilizes iris scanning, thus making it easy to use for both the patients and hospital staff. It is also hygienic as it does not require physical contact and is also safe and accurate. The health systems using it are reporting that it helped to improve the patient experience, improved patient safety, and reduced denied claims. All of these lead to minimizing the losses incurred due to misidentifications significantly.

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Another one added to the endless list of patient misidentifications stories

Another day, another one added to the endless patient misidentifications stories– makes the need for an effective patient identification solution like RightPatient even more urgent. 

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However, medical record mix-ups occurred even before EHRs were implemented. Years ago, a woman called Liz Tidyman’s parents decided to spend more time with their daughter and grandchildren, and thus moved close to their home. While they did so, they carried everything important with them, especially the hard copies of their medical records (EHRs did not exist back then).

Exactly two days after the parents moved in with Liz, the father unfortunately fell. Since this has never happened before, the family was concerned, and they took him to a hospital for a checkup. While sitting in the waiting room, Liz took out her father’s medical record right on time, or else there would have been some grave consequences in store for the family. As Liz went through her father’s health record, she saw some abnormalities- there were numerous pages regarding the medical history of an entirely different person. The only thing Liz could associate with her father was the name of the other patient, everything else regarding the medical history was unrecognizable by Liz- the other patient had much more complex problems than her father did. At that instant, she took out those irrelevant pages about the mistaken patient and decided that she will always double-check such sensitive records, medical or otherwise, in the foreseeable future.

This was just one story, and that too before the introduction of EHRs and the mess they created. There are many such stories and incidents before and after EHRS which have created the billion-dollar problem- patient misidentifications. These have also led to numerous patient misidentifications stories, due to which everyone is taking it seriously now.  

Another one added to the endless list of patient misidentifications stories
Another one added to the endless list of patient misidentifications stories

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

No patient, old or young, is safe from patient matching errors, but since the older ones are less comfortable with technology, they need to be more careful regarding their medical records. According to a healthcare official, one out of ten patients who have seen their records say that there are inconsistencies and demand corrections. This is not really surprising, given the number of problems we read about everyday regarding patient identification. For instance, some patients may see that inaccurate medical test results, treatment plans, or diagnoses have been attached to their medical records, raising doubts regarding what else is mixed up with other patients. However, this actually happened with Liz’s father as well.

When asked about kidney cancer, Liz’s father denied he had it. Afterward, Liz viewed the materials and realized that the mix-up was due to the name, and it was listed kidney cancer instead of skin cancer, the latter which her father actually had. Likewise, omissions, patient mix-ups, and duplicate records create all kinds of ruckus and devastate families, end the lives of individuals and cause losses in millions of dollars. This has been the scenario for years, and EHRs did not fix them, they only amplified the problems further.

Health systems have finally begun to address how serious of an issue patient misidentifications can be, thanks to the endless pile of patient misidentifications stories. While some hospitals are struggling with using only EHRs for patient identification, others are clamoring for an effective solution to end these patient matching errors. However, other advanced and forward-thinking healthcare providers opted for RightPatient– a biometric patient identification system. It uses the iris scanning modality to identify the patients. Once the hospitals enroll the patients with RightPatient, they can be recognized and matched with their records easily and conveniently, all it needs is a look at the camera- it’s that easy! Patient acceptance to RightPatient has been high as well since they perceive it as safe and hygienic- no physical contact required; thus, no risks of contracting any diseases. RightPatients helps in saving the lives of patients and reducing denied claims and ultimately saving money along the way. 

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Importance of patient identification and EHRs- What you need to know

When it was at its introductory stage, the official representatives had stated that medical records going digital and becoming electronic health records (EHRs) would change the healthcare system of the US entirely. They said that EHRs would be the future of the healthcare industry as they will be safe, inexpensive, and easy to use, with a focus on the importance of patient identification. They were leaving conventional paper records in the dust. They were right- partially. EHRs did change the healthcare industry as we know it, it did prove to be the future, and it did make paper records obsolete, only not in the way everyone thought it would. Almost a decade later, EHRs have created abundant problems in the healthcare industry– for patients, health systems, insurance providers, and everyone else involved with it. Moreover, the biggest challenge it caused is patient misidentification, which is a multibillion-dollar burning issue, and presently, everyone is clamoring for a viable solution for the errors caused by EHRs.

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These are some findings by a study which highlights some of the biggest problems of patient misidentifications via EHRs. 

Patient safety

The most obvious and most dangerous problem caused by EHRs is reducing patient safety- EHRs, since their introduction they have created several issues which compromise patient safety. Innumerous incidents have been reported including as wrong treatment, wrong surgeries, even deaths and many more, all of which lead back to software issues, errors, bugs or flaws of EHRs and how it misidentifies patients. We have read many stories of how EHR misidentifications have led to surgeries of wrong patients, or how they have caused financial losses for patients, or, in unfortunate cases, deaths. It has been years that EHRs have become standardized, but there are no efforts to fix these problems within the EHRs to improve patient safety. The importance of patient identification has been underestimated which is why these problems occurred. 

Medical identity theft 

The next issue caused by patient misidentifications is fraudulent activities. EHRs can be tricked since no unique patient identifier exists in the US, which can verify the authenticity of the patient. This fact is commonly known, and due to this, many miscreants can attempt to fool the system and officials and commit medical identity theft, healthcare fraud and many other unlawful activities with the patient ID and get away with it. Such incidents cause financial losses for the patients whose IDs are stolen, and it can also be used for more nefarious purposes like obtaining unprescribed drugs to consume or sell them, and events like these have caused the opioid crisis.

Importance of patient identification and EHRs- What you need to know
Importance of patient identification and EHRs- What you need to know

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

Interoperability issues

When EHRs were introduced, it was expected that given it will be completely digital, there will be some form of seamless integration of the data which can be accessed by a patient’s different healthcare providers. However, fast forward a decade, and the reality is entirely the opposite. Forget about obtaining the same data around the nation. Research has shown that even after using the same EHR system, two different healthcare systems cannot also match a patient correctly, as the match rates are as low as 50%. Thus, information exchange is next to impossible with EHRs, which is why there are so many interoperability seminars being held nowadays.

Physician burnouts

Many doctors have reported dissatisfaction with EHRs, as they spend almost half their day clicking on the system and inputting data to match the patients instead of interacting with the patients themselves. This is problematic not only for the physicians but for the patients too, as more time is spent on EHRs rather than patients. Even then, patients sometimes cannot be accurately matched with their health records.

How to fix these errors?

EHRs’ biggest problem is patient misidentification, and that itself causes all of the above issues. Everyone in the US healthcare learned the importance of patient identification the hard way. However, for the past few years, many have tried to come up with innovative solutions to combat patient matching errors, but the best one is RightPatient– a biometric patient identification solution. It uses the iris scanning modality to ensure a safe, hygienic, and convenient way to detect the patients accurately. Since there is no necessity for physical contact, a look at the camera is enough for identification, and patients find this extremely convenient and easy to use. Once a hospital registers a patient with their proper EHR via RightPatient, he/she can be identified by their biometrics only, which improves patient safety and provides an exceptional patient experience, as per the reports of the hundreds of health systems who are currently using RightPatient to eliminate patient matching errors and saving millions in the process.

improving-patient-safety

Healthcare’s most significant issue- Improving patient safety

Whenever medical records do not match with patients and are out of sync, all kinds of problems occur for everyone involved, both physically and financially. Keeping this in mind, patient matching errors seem never-ending. Is there a solution? Is there anything which will help in improving patient safety?

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A look at what patient matching errors are capable of

Let us see an example to understand the gravity of the situation presented by patient misidentifications. In the year 2016, a mistakenly identified patient’s kidney was already taken out, and by the time the doctor realized that the patient had no tumor, it was already too late. This disaster had occurred due to mix-ups of test results of patients sharing the same name. This incident was kept under wraps until government officials looked into the issue to know precisely what happened, and it became public knowledge. However, most people, as usual, thought that this blunder was one in a million cases. It was a blunder; however, it was not one in a million cases- it is a common scenario.

Such phenomenons occur almost every day within any given healthcare provider, big or small, all over the US. The hospital personnel very casually presume the EHRs they click on are the accurate ones which include patient data like history, diagnoses, test results, and so on. This type of behavior is reckless and can result in grave consequences for the patients.

This is sadly the most overlooked but one of the most dangerous problems the healthcare industry faces- patient misidentification. It is the worst kept secret of the industry and has been the talk of the industry by many groups for years. Now, the question on everyone’s minds is what is being done for improving patient safety?

Problems associated with patient safety issues

The most common type of patient matching errors faced by healthcare providers occurs when two patients have the same name. For instance, Samuel L. Jackson, S. E. Jackson, Samuel Luis Jackson, and Sam Jackson may indicate the same individual, but inadvertently, or to save time by not searching for the proper record, the hospital staff may have made four individual records for the patient. To make matters worse, this may not even be known by neither the doctor nor the patient while making treatment plans. Such duplicate records can lead to grave consequences as well- if they get merged, can lead to wrong treatments, medications, and sometimes even removal of completely healthy organs like the example above.

According to a recent study, one EHR out of five in a single healthcare provider is a duplicate record. That is not all; the problem only gets worse when different organizations try to share these EHRs. Even when two separate organizations share the same EHR software, match rates are only around 50%.

Healthcare's most significant issue- Improving patient safety
Healthcare's most significant issue- Improving patient safety

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

What other problems arise from patient matching errors?

It is not just about patient safety, although it is the biggest concern of inaccurate patient matching. It is one of the costliest mistakes for any given healthcare system, as each correction of the records costs from $1000 to a whopping $5000, depending on the severity of the issue. Thus, this is a multibillion-dollar problem in the healthcare industry. Also, if there have been cases of patient matching errors, some healthcare providers recommend another round of medical tests to be sure.

There has also not been any national patient identifier other than EHRs, which is the cause of the patient matching errors in the first place. The problem lies with the fact that the healthcare providers decide what kind of information they want to keep and what to omit, as these create fragmentations regarding patient data. In other developed countries, this problem is tackled by a unique patient identifier, such as a number, so that even if the patients are sharing commonalities, it will be canceled out by the number which is unique for each patient. Unfortunately, the USA is the only first-world country without such an identifier due to privacy concerns back in 1996.

What is the solution for improving patient safety?

Many healthcare systems have waited it out for a proper patient identification solution which will work towards improving patient safety, and it looks like it paid off. Many healthcare providers are using solutions like RightPatient. It is a biometric patient identification system which utilizes iris scanning. Well-known health systems like Northwell Health are already using it and are reporting promising results. Patients love it, as they do not need to carry any IDs. All they need to do is look at the camera and get their irises authenticated, and it pulls their medical data from their EHRs, it is that easy. All of this saves time in the patient identification process. Also, it is safe and hygienic, as no physical touch is required; thus, no risk of diseases via contact. Hundreds of health systems are using RightPatient and are reiterating the same thing- enhanced patient safety, better patient experience, and reduced denied claims.

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Patient misidentification cases are persistent as no industry-wide solution exists

Synchronizing medical information with the appropriate patients accordingly- how hard can it be, right? Well, it is precisely the opposite. It is easier said than done- patient misidentification cases are abundant. Since the introduction of electronic health records (EHRs), people thought that it would make the lives of everyone involved easier, but the reverse has happened. EHRs are filled with issues like misspellings, incomplete data, common names, outdated addresses, and so on, which overall leads to duplication of records. One of the consequences of all of this, according to a reputed organization, is the match rates being an average of 80%, sometimes even lower. It doesn’t sound all that bad, but it is the result obtained from the same healthcare provider the records have been created in! 

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One out of every five patients is likely to suffer from patient identification errors and become one of the many patient misidentification cases in the US. This is not the only problem, however. Patient matching errors are like a web created by spiders- trapping all the parties who are connected to patient identification- patients, healthcare providers, physicians, insurance companies, and so on. 

Patient misidentification cases are also synonymous with rising costs as patient misidentification is famous for being a persistent multibillion-dollar problem in the healthcare industry. A patient matching error costs a hospital around $2000, and if we look at the bigger picture, there are $1.5 million of denied claims for a single hospital in a given year. That is an outrageous amount of money which is completely wasted due to these errors.

As per the definition, patient matching refers to obtaining the accurate medical record for a given patient whenever necessary, to make informed decisions regarding the health of the patient. Healthcare professionals are frustrated that this is not what they experience whenever they are matching the patients with their records and are clamoring for something which will change the industry and generate accurate patient identification- something RightPatient is very good at doing. 

Let’s explore more in-depth into why patient matching errors occur. Patient matching is also reliant on the hospital employees who come into contact with it- they need to fill in the gaps for the new data, or else they might need to update changes in data like a surname, address, etc. to ensure accuracy. However, errors, in this case, maybe made by either the patient, the staff, or both. A patient might not be attentive and may not check whether accurate data has been entered; likewise, an employee may not check with the patient to ensure he has put in the correct data or not. They might think that it is not a big deal, but there lies the problem. Such inconsistencies which they believe are inconsequential lead to increased waiting times, worse patient outcomes, financial losses, wrong treatments, and sometimes even result in deaths. 

Patient misidentification cases are persistent as no industry-wide solution exists
Patient misidentification cases are persistent as no industry-wide solution exists

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

A reputed individual in the industry stated that to combat these errors, a lot of countries have switched to unique IDs for patients. Sadly, the US is not doing that yet, as it has no nationwide standardized patient identifier nor any effective strategy to do so. Thus, the responsibility is pushed onto the shoulders of the healthcare providers, each coming up with their own approach for identifying patients. 

A lot of suggestions have been made by experts to solve these errors, like software for patient identification, improvements in data standards, and ID cards, among many other options. However, the only one which is being pursued by many and used by early adopters are biometric patient identification systems. RightPatient is the most appropriate choice to eliminate patient matching errors. It uses iris scanning to ensure that the correct patient is identified, and it does so with ease, as reported by over a hundred healthcare providers who are using it. As it is using iris scanning, it is also hygienic and safe, as it requires no physical contact, and is convenient for the patients, as all they need to do is look into the scanner to match with their records. Since it is also less time consuming than traditional patient matching, it is lauded by many for improving the patient experience as well as patient safety. Patient matching has never been easier and more accurate, according to the users of RightPatient

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.

understanding patients in healthcare

What You Need to Know About Your Patient & What They Need to Know About You

understanding patients in healthcare

Establishing an environment of trust helps decrease or eliminate misunderstandings and medical errors in healthcare. (Photo courtesy of Flickr: http://bit.ly/2knx7Ax

The following guest post on patient relations in healthcare was submitted by Hannah Whittenly.

Understanding your patients and making sure they know you helps establish a relationship of trust. This should decrease or eliminate misunderstandings and errors. The following are just a few things you need to know about your patients and what they need to know about you.

What Doctors Need to Know

Patient Identification

Patient identification is of the utmost importance for a doctor. It helps ensure that the patient’s identity matches the treatment or service. Keep in mind that the proper procedure for patient identification is for your staff to ask patients to state their name and date of birth. Identification issues might occur when patients have hearing issues, so it is wise to be on top of this problem.

Patient Data

Recording patient data can help your practice and the medical industry as a whole. Understanding a patient’s medical history and tracking a patient’s health, medications, and lifestyle helps doctors come up with a customized plan to reduce the chance of errors. This type of data helps establish patterns for clients and may even help you reevaluate a plan to provide what your patients need the most.

What Clients Need to Know About You

Track Record

Patients should be aware of a doctor’s track record so that they can make an informed decision. This can be done by searching for the doctor’s name on the state’s medical licensing board website. There may be some information on the doctor and his or her track record. It might be a good idea to type in the doctor’s full name and location in a search engine to find out more information about the doctor. A patient can rest easy knowing that a doctor’s track record is clean, and it should make it easy for the client to trust you.

Education

Most state medical licensing boards have information regarding a doctor’s education, but this is not always the case. There are some instances when the state’s licensing board may not be updated. It might be a good idea to check out sites like UCompareHealthcare to learn about a doctor’s education. You can even check out the rest of the staff’s education. If you wanted to look up a nurse who may have participated in an online msn program, for example, you could look him or her up to see what their record and education history looks like and be more assured that they are the right nurse for you. Patients should be able to find out about the medical professionals that that they see pretty easily. This helps them feel more comfortable, and it makes it easier to make a decision about making you the doctor or nurse that they request on a regular basis.

All this information matters, and it is vital in building the right relationship. It also makes a difference in the type of care you provide to your patients.

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

patient ID in healthcare

Our Top Posts on Patient ID in 2016

patient ID in healthcare

A look back at our most trafficked blog posts of 2016 and a few words on the state of patient ID in healthcare. (Photo courtesy of pixabay.com: http://bit.ly/2iUh8G9)

We work hard throughout the year to help our community stay informed of the latest news and information on the state of patient identification in healthcare. Our perspective is that the future of patient ID is the patient photo, and with good reason. The ECRI recently recommended that healthcare organizations use more standard means of patient identification, which should include patient photos with their electronic health records (EHR). In addition, many prominent healthcare providers have already implemented patient photo capture initiatives, pointing out that capturing a photo increases patient safety and helps augment effective patient provider communication.

Understanding that accurate patient ID in healthcare affects so many more downstream activities and is widely considered to be the “big bang” of effective and safe patient care, the urgency for hospitals and healthcare organizations to adopt more secure patient identification technology has never been stronger.

Healthcare providers should take note however that not all biometric patient identification solutions are equipped to address the challenges and complexities of ensuring ID accuracy across the entire care continuum which now includes a multitude of new touchpoints such as connected health devices, patient portals, telemedicine, home health, and more. Investing in a patient identification solution that simply provides the ability to accurately identify an individual when they are physically present at a medical facility is now considered short-sighted. Healthcare providers should now consider adopting patient ID technology that is easily scalable, and has the flexibility to capture and store a patient’s photo for accurate identification during any encounter along the care continuum.

In 2016, we wrote extensively about the impact of accurate identification on patient safety including several posts that extrapolate on the imperatives of capturing photos as part of the ID process. We also covered how technology has changed healthcare provider patient ID protocols, the growth and impact on patient ID of iris recognition on smart devices, the characteristics and limitations of patient ID biometric hardware, and much more.

After crunching the numbers, what were our most popular blog posts for 2016? Here is the list:

  1. Identify Unconscious, Unknown Patients with Biometric Identification Technology – Written in May, 2015 this entry was our most trafficked post in 2016. Understanding how biometric technology works in real-life scenarios can help shed light on its true ability to identify unconscious patients as quickly as possible. 
  2. The Difference Between 1:N, 1:1, and 1:Few and Why it Matters in Patient ID – Did you know that there are different biometric matching types depending on the type of hardware modality you deploy for patient ID in healthcare? Written in 2015, this post examines three biometric matching types – one-to-many, one-to-one, and one-to-few – providing a side to side comparison of each matching type capabilities and limitations and providing a recommendation of the only matching type that can truly prevent duplicates and protect patient medical identities.
  3. Removing the word “scan” from iris recognition healthcare biometrics – Our extensive experience deploying iris recognition biometrics around the world helped us to understand and advocate that the word “scan” be removed from any discussion of this technology. Learn more about our viewpoint in this post from 2015.
  4. In Your Face: Future of Federated Patient ID – As we mentioned earlier in this post, the future of patient ID in healthcare is the distinct ability for a provider to capture and store a patient’s photo that can be used for accurate identification at any point along the care continuum. This post, and a subsequent follow up article by our friends at HealthStandards effectively illustrates not only the importance of capturing a patient’s photo at registration but how that photo can be used with facial recognition biometrics for accurate identification no matter where a patient seeks care or data access.
  5. Why telemedicine needs accurate patient ID – Following in the footsteps of our assertion that modern patient identification strategies should be holistic and enable the ability to accurately ID patients at any point along the care continuum, this post covers why we feel accurate patient ID is just as important for connected health and telemedicine as it is for in-person visits.

2016 is a wrap. We observed a few positive advancements to improve patient identification in healthcare, but overall we remain concerned that the topic is often skirted in favor of bolder, more splashy initiatives (e.g. – MACRA, Blockchain, interoperability) which always seem to garner more attention. No doubt that these are important initiatives in the healthcare industry but as we have said many times before — accurate patient identification in healthcare arguably should have been the first problem solved before we tackled these other projects. However, factors at play make it perhaps one of the most difficult and complex healthcare issues to solve from a logistical, political, economical, privacy, and health data exchange perspective.

What did you feel was the most important patient identification advancement (or regression) during 2016? Please leave us a comment!