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Patient Identity Matching – Solving an unsolved crisis with RightPatient

Accurate patient identity matching holds paramount significance across the U.S. healthcare system. Delivering the best possible patient experience, including safety and outcome, hinges on the ability of the healthcare providers to keep and maintain accurate medical records. Healthcare providers continue to struggle to accurately match their patients’ identities to their health records, and blame it on inaccurate and incomplete patient data, says the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Physicians should be able to retrieve accurate records on each patient’s medical history, including lab results, diagnoses, medications, imaging, surgeries, etc. to deliver the best patient care. Needless to say, accurate patient identity matching during the COVID-19 crisis is vital for ensuring a positive patient experience.

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Can healthcare providers solve the patient identity matching crisis? Yes, and the solution is RightPatient – a leading touchless biometric patient identity management platform that has been successfully helping many leading hospitals address this specific issue.

Accurate patient identity matching ensures that the right patient is associated with the right medical records within a healthcare system. It means knowing with certainty that a piece of medical information belongs to the correct individual. There are many consequences if records are mismatched, such as incorrect treatment, improper data entries which can lead to the creation of duplicate records, and medical identity theft. Effective patient identity matching is not just about patient safety, it also helps healthcare providers avoid financial losses associated with duplicate records and claim denials from medical identity theft. 

How costly are patient identity matching errors?

Let us look at this example. A patient’s kidney was surgically removed by the time physicians realized that there was no tumor. This blunder in the operating room of Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., occurred when the patient’s CT scan was accidentally mixed up with the record of another patient who had the same name. The incident was widely reported in July 2016 when regulators came to investigate what exactly happened. Most people who read the accounts thought it was a rare blunder. But this type of blunder is not rare at all. 

Every day in medical clinics and hospitals, physicians assume they have an accurate picture of a patient’s medical history, diagnoses, lab results, and other information when they click into an electronic medical record (EMR). But this assumption can lead to fatal consequences, like the example mentioned above.

The problem is called patient identity matching error, a crisis that RightPatient has been addressing for years. One of the most severe match errors is when two patients’ medical records, with a similar or same name, get merged, leading to an erroneous organ removal or other nightmares. More common than this is the creation of duplicate medical records. For instance, Christina Elizabeth Smith, Cristina E. Smith, and C. E. Smith refers to the same individual, but her medical information is filed under three separate records. Neither the physician nor the patient will be aware of missing data points when they are discussing treatment decisions or procedures. 

The problem with common identifiers

Duplicate medical records can be created in many ways. One of the most common sources of duplicate records is making errors during the patient registration process. Other variations can be associated with identifying an unconscious patient when they are in the ER. Many times, duplicate records are also created due to demographic changes for the patient. Registrars face difficulties when patients change their last name or move to another place, so they create a new record for that individual. 

Patient identity matching errors can also occur when there is a variation in using common identifiers during the registration or identification process. A simple typo or mishearing the correct word can result in a mismatch in records. 

Common identifiers are also used to commit medical identity theft, an issue that healthcare providers have been trying to avoid for the past several years. A fraudster can easily get access to this type of information and fraudulently imitate someone else’s identity to get medication/benefits for their own use. 

These kinds of problems can be mitigated if common identifiers such as names, DOB, SSNs, or other demographic data used during the initial registration and identification process are replaced with the unique identifiers that RightPatient uses. For instance, identifying and authenticating an individual by using their iris pattern or a photo of their face. 

Accurate Patient Identity Matching with RightPatient

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identity management platform. Problems pertaining to duplicate records, medical identity theft, and record mismatch have been successfully mitigated by using RightPatient. Leading healthcare providers such as Terrebonne General Medical Center and The University Health Care System have successfully eliminated these sorts of problems and are continuously delivering the best experience for their patients with utmost clinical efficiency. 

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During the initial patient enrollment process, RightPatient will lock an individual’s medical records using their iris pattern or a photo of their face. Each time a patient arrives at the continuum of care, RightPatient will verify and authenticate their identity through an iris scanner, camera, or a webcam and retrieve their accurate medical records.

As a leader in the patient identity matching process, RightPatient helps healthcare providers to keep and maintain accurate medical records of their patients. Patient identity matching problems related to aggregating patient data via Health Information Exchanges (HIE) can be eliminated if all the healthcare providers adopt RightPatient, ensuring the best clinical outcome and data integrity across the healthcare system.

Patient Identity Matching - Solving an unsolved crisis with RightPatient
Patient Identity Matching - Solving an unsolved crisis with RightPatient

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, touchless biometric technologies will play a key role in the next few years. RightPatient ensures safety and hygiene in a health facility by limiting physical contact between people and frequently touched high-risk surfaces, such as fingerprint scanners. Adopt RightPatient and make sure that one patient does not have multiple records in the master patient index (MPI) and that each piece of health information ends up in the correct patient record.

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Improve Quality and Safety in Healthcare With Touchless Patient Identification

In the medical field, elective procedures are surgeries that can be scheduled in advance, including those that are medically required. The U.S. healthcare industry is losing millions of dollars due to canceled elective procedures. Studies have found that surgical stays account for approximately 48% of hospitalization costs and elective procedures bring in $700 more per admission than emergency room admissions. For obvious reasons, many people have stopped going to hospitals, even those with critical medical conditions, since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. On the bright side, more than half of the health consumers now feel moderately safe about returning for elective procedures. But much of it will hinge on ensuring quality and safety in healthcare.

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Hospitals are considering when and how to recommence elective procedures as the surge in COVID-19 patients in some areas of the country has slowed down. But families and patients will want to know what changes the healthcare providers made from when they were told to stay at home. They want reassurance that hospitals have undertaken appropriate measures for ensuring quality and safety in healthcare delivery, and it will take time and proper resources for physicians to convince the consumers. 

Key takeaways

In a recent webinar panel discussion with some patient and family advisors conducted by Vizient, they found out that patients are likely to return to elective procedures in waves. The initial wave will include those who will come forward no matter the risks, such as oncology patients, patients with impairment affecting their daily life activities, or those in pain. This will be followed by the second wave, who may return if they feel safe about hospital hygiene, for instance, low risks of getting infected or a low-risk procedure with a minimum follow up. Other findings also include transparency and communications. To feel safe, patients will want to know that safety and infection prevention processes are in action, including cleaning of handrails, elevators, and other high-touch surfaces, and clinicians wearing personal protective equipment throughout the care.

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Feel safe with RightPatient’s touchless patient identification platform

As the aforementioned examples suggest, patients will demand assurance from providers that they are taking actions to ensure quality and safety in healthcare delivery. Adopting RightPatient’s platform is an ideal strategy to make sure of that. Elective procedures or not, at the initial stage, identifying patients accurately and matching their medical records is an integral part of the healthcare delivery process. As an industry leader, RightPatient has helped many healthcare providers tackle the patient identification crisis and improved quality and safety in healthcare delivery. With patients demanding more hygienic solutions, RightPatient’s touchless identification process can help hospitals convince healthcare consumers to come in during this or a post-COVID-19 crisis.

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RightPatient is an entirely touchless biometric patient identification platform. From pre-procedure through discharge, this platform can match a patient’s identity and pull up their correct medical records throughout the continuum of patient care. All a patient needs to do is get their photo captured by a smartphone, tablet, or a webcam from a safe distance, and RightPatient will instantly identify the patient and bring up their medical records. Additionally, RightPatient also has a remote patient authentication model. During this process, RightPatient can validate patient identities while they are at home by comparing their ID (e.g.driver’s license) and selfie photos. 

Improve Quality and Safety in Healthcare With Touchless Patient Identification
Improve Quality and Safety in Healthcare With Touchless Patient Identification

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

Clinical efficiency and positive patient experience will play a key role in hospitals gaining back their momentum. With RightPatient, patients can be reassured that their medical records are secure and healthcare providers can be at ease knowing there is zero chance of making a blunder in matching a patient’s identity. Besides accurate identification, this platform helps prevent medical identity theft and duplicate medical records as well, overall enhancing quality and safety in healthcare delivery.

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Enhance Patient Safety – Are you using a touchless solution for patient identification?

We are living through the COVID-19 pandemic. In times of crisis, the ability to provide treatments quickly and delivering clear communication are crucial.  The U.S healthcare system is responding to this crisis by detecting, testing, treating, isolating, and mobilizing patients as well as healthcare staff members. However, how healthcare providers are identifying their patients remains a key concern. Are they using contact-dependent or touchless solutions? Touchless solutions for patient identification have many benefits over contact-dependent options. Especially during a pandemic, the most important one might be obvious – they are ideal for hygiene and infection control. This can play an important role in patient safety. 

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The COVID-19 outbreak has been a prime catalyst for the growth and adoption of touchless identification processes. Many healthcare providers are also looking for ways to enhance patient safety while they secure a patient’s identity and their medical records in a hygienic manner. Let’s examine both contact-dependent and touchless solutions for patient identification with regards to hygiene and infection control.

Infection control concerns about fingerprint and vein scanners

Fingerprint and vein recognition models for patient identification are currently used across the U.S. healthcare system. However, hygiene and infection control must be considered with these contact-dependent biometric scanners. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, numerous studies have determined that there is a risk of infection through commonly touched surfaces. Reports determined that this virus can survive from hours to days depending on the type of surface the particles land on. For fingerprint recognition, patients are required to touch a sensor that carries a level of surface contamination that is equivalent to door handles. 

Vein recognition, on the other hand, requires users to place their entire hand or finger on a plastic mold that helps with proper positioning over the biometric sensor. This increases the amount of contact-dependent surface area and overall risk. 

In addition, fingerprint and vein scanner surfaces need to be cleaned after each use to prevent the risk of infection transmission. This necessary precaution introduces an additional cost and resources burden for healthcare providers while preventing employees from focusing on more important tasks. 

Facial and iris recognition modalities for patient identification

Touchless patient identification systems such as facial or iris recognition, on the other hand, completely eliminate the risk of spreading infection by allowing patients to be identified without needing to touch anything. Furthermore, according to a study, iris recognition has a far better success rate for identification compared to fingerprint recognition. 

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Besides being more accurate, iris and facial recognition techniques will enable healthcare providers to identify their patients from a safe distance. By eliminating patient identification errors, hospitals can enhance patient safety while ensuring a hygienic environment, without even needing to constantly sanitize scanning devices or sensors. 

Enhance patient safety with RightPatient

Several studies suggest that touchless biometric identification is about to experience significant growth. Now that the difference between contact-dependent and touchless solutions is clear, choosing the right vendor will play an important role. Several leading hospitals have already experienced an improved revenue cycle by eliminating duplicate medical records and medical identity theft since using RightPatient – the leading touchless biometric patient identification platform. Some customers include Community Medical Centers, University Health Care System, and Terrebonne General Medical Center. 

Enhance Patient Safety - Are you using a touchless solution for patient identification?
Enhance Patient Safety - Are you using a touchless solution for patient identification?

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

Aspects of our lives that we have been taking for granted have been threatened by the COVID-19 outbreak. Our fears and concerns about spreading the virus have been elevated, and healthcare providers are taking any and all necessary steps to protect their patients and their staff members. Clearly understanding the risk factors associated with contact-dependent biometric patient identification devices and considering RightPatient’s touchless patient identification platform can be an effective way to reduce risk and enhance patient safety. 

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Correct Patient Identification is Crucial for Vaccine Administration

With over 1.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States as of 22nd May 2020 and surrounding talks about reopening society, it remains a firm fact that without widespread contact tracing and safe vaccine administration, there is no getting back to the life we once knew as normal. Nevertheless, there is one major and longstanding hurdle to overcome for achieving either of both widespread contact tracing or safe vaccine administration goals, and that is correct patient identification.

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The importance of correct patient identification

The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-profit, non-governmental organization along with several other organizations have been looking for ways to improve patient matching through correct patient identification. Most importantly, they have stressed the fact that biometric technology is the key, including in a recent HIMSS20 Digital Presentation

PEW has again stressed that Congress should act to improve patient identification and patient matching. They sent a letter this week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, R-Kentucky, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York. According to the letter, thorough contact tracing in the short-term and nationwide vaccination administration in the long-term relies on having accurate patient demographic data, but the current flaws with correct patient identification and matching of patient records hinder the nation’s ability to achieve either of those goals.

Drawbacks of patient identification errors

Ben Moscovitch, Project Director for Health Information Technology at the Pew Charitable Trusts says “Matching is a problem today”. He says, according to research, half of the patient records may not match when transferred from one healthcare facility to another, thereby imposing unnecessary risk and potential harm to the patient. 

eliminate-drawbacks-of-patient-identification-errors-with-RightPatient

Not having a correct patient identification technique in hospitals can cause discrepancies in data when hospitals try to match an individual’s record, and it may lead to the creation of another electronic health record (EHR) for the same patient (this is commonly known as creating a duplicate medical record in the system). Duplicate medical records drive up costs. Research has shown that duplicate medical records can cost hospitals $96 to fix each record, adding up to $1,000 to remove the data of two patients whose records have been merged together.

Key factors that can hinder the immunization process

A variety of factors can affect correct patient identification. When common identifiers such as name, DOB, and address are used, a simple typo or variation in how these identifiers are recorded during registration can lead to poor match rates. 

Another major problem with patient matching is the fact that many people have similar names, including the same date of birth. In a nation where nearly 48,000 people are named John Smith, correct patient identification is absolutely critical for an effective widespread vaccination program.

An effective large-scale nationwide vaccination program and immunization registry would depend on reliable and robust patient data, and successful administration of this program hinges on the ability of healthcare providers to locate the right patient record. Biometric technology has consistently proven effective in matching patient records through correct patient identification.

Why should you use biometric technology in a post-coronavirus society?

Contactless biometric technology is a hygienic way to ensure correct patient identification, limiting infection control risk during the identification process. As a pioneer in touchless biometric patient identification, the RightPatient platform offers iris and facial recognition for correct patient identification to ensure that patients can be identified without having to touch a common biometric device. 

Correct Patient Identification is Crucial for Vaccine Administration
Correct Patient Identification is Crucial for Vaccine Administration

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

RightPatient uses the biometric characteristics of a patient to prevent medical identity theft and duplicate medical records. Through the platform, patient identities can be validated remotely through their own personal devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, and PCs) after they schedule appointments. During in-person or telehealth visits, patients can be subsequently authenticated by simply capturing their photo. The solution significantly increases patient matching rates. 

Needless to say, contactless biometric technology for correct patient identification is the key to an effective nationwide vaccination program. Errors from common patient names, lack of demographic data standards, and human mistakes can be avoided with RightPaitent to strengthen the integrity of data related to vaccinations and COVID diagnoses. This will help to reduce costs and improve patient safety. 

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Iris Recognition Offers Non-Contact, Hygienic Individual Identification

The following guest post was written by Brian Bilia, Enterprise Sales Consultant with RightPatient®

More Schools Using Non-Contact Biometrics for Individual Identification

In case you missed it, this week Virginia Commonwealth University announced the implementation of iris recognition in their on-campus dining halls for student identification. In addition to presenting a safer and more secure way to identify students the deployment according to the article, the initiative is designed to be:

“…helpful for students who forget or lose their IDs over the weekend, as there is not a way to get a replacement card over the weekend.” (USA Today, “New iris cameras at Va. school scan students’ eyes for entry into dining hall” http://usat.ly/1L4cbWb)

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If schools adopt iris biometrics for student ID based on it’s non-contact, hygienic form factor, shouldn’t the healthcare industry offer the same protection to patients?

The article goes on to report that one of the main reasons Virginia Commonwealth and another schools chose to deploy iris recognition was because of its non-contact, hygienic feature:

“VCU is following in the steps of other schools — including George Mason University — which introduced the eye scanning system last year. Both schools opted for the this non-contact form of biometric technology — as opposed to a fingerprint scanner — because it is less invasive and won’t spread germs.” (USA Today, “New iris cameras at Va. school scan students’ eyes for entry into dining hall” http://usat.ly/1L4cbWb)

Essentially, hygiene played a critical role in determining which biometric modality the school would use for student identification. Due to the fact that iris recognition does not require physical contact with a biometric device, it presents one of the most hygienic hardware options available, keeping end users safe from the spread of germs and illness that could otherwise be a risk when using a contact dependent modality such as fingerprint or palm vein recognition. The fact that schools continue to adopt iris recognition for identification due to it’s hygienic, non-contact features begs the question — shouldn’t hospitals adopting biometric patient identification tools be investigating non-contact biometric modalities too?

Non-Contact, Hygienic Biometric Patient ID in Healthcare

In the healthcare industry, patient safety is the #1 priority. Rising conscientiousness about new strategies to keep patients safe rise combined with the explosion of digital health tools has pushed hospitals to re-assess hospital acquired condition (HAC) control policies and implement new platforms and monitoring programs that provide a safer and more hygienic environment for patient care. In addition, new policies by Medicare now penalize hospitals with high HAC rates raising the level of urgency to adopt digital health tools that support hospital infection control policies.

In lockstep with the urgency to increase patient safety in any possible way, hospitals and healthcare organizations are quickly catching on to the benefits of using biometrics for patient identification as a means to increase patient safety but what they are also discovering is that not all biometric hardware modalities have the ability to offer a non-contact, hygienic experience. Biometric hardware that requires physical contact by a patient can be interpreted as non-hygienic and raises the risk of HAC’s if the device is not properly sanitized after each use. Even when properly sanitized, these devices still pose a threat to patient safety due to the fact that cleaning agents do not have the ability to remove 100% of germs or bacteria.

Upon further research, healthcare entities learn that using iris recognition for patient identification in healthcare offers the use of an iris camera that a patient does not touch, helping to support hospital infection control policies and ensure that no one is susceptible to germs or bacteria that could cause an infection or illness. 

Patient Acceptance is Key

Despite the advantages of using iris recognition for patient ID in healthcare, certain stigmas exist about this technology that may make a healthcare organization hesitant to adopt. Many feel that iris recognition is too invasive and beams visible light into a patient’s eyes to determine their identity. In reality, iris recognition is often confused with retinal scanning which does use visible light for identification. Iris recognition instead uses camera technology with subtle infrared illumination to acquire images of the detail-rich, intricate structures of the iris. It’s 100% safe, and our field research has proven that patients are overwhelmingly accepting of using iris recognition for identification when presented with the option to protect them from duplicate medical records, fraud, and medical ID theft. 

Plus, iris recognition for patient ID offers other benefits such as the ability to identify unconscious or unknown patients and is built on one-to-many matching, the only true way to prevent duplicate medical records and medical identity theft in healthcare. 

Iris Recognition Offers Non-Contact, Hygienic Individual Identification
Iris Recognition Offers Non-Contact, Hygienic Individual Identification

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

Conclusion

Iris recognition has proven to be one of the most popular biometric modalities for individual identification for a number of reasons, including it’s non-contact, hygienic form factor that protects end users from germs and bacteria that otherwise exist on alternative biometric hardware devices. Hygiene has a rising influence in determining which hardware modality is utilized in  biometric identification management projects, and the advantages of using iris recognition biometrics has positioned the technology for strong adoption growth in the years to come.

How important is hygiene to you when selecting a biometric hardware modality?

biometric patient identification using iris recognition

Brian joined RightPatient in July 2015 as Enterprise Sales Consultant for the Midwest Region. Prior to RightPatient, Brian held several roles in sales management and new business development achieving over 15 years of experience working with the healthcare/hospital industry.