Posts

Scanning a patient for identification

Hospitals Need a Better Patient Matching System to Identify “John Does”

Patient identification or lack thereof is a topic which we hear about every day. We always read news about mistaken patient identities due to mix-ups, frauds, insufficient patient matching system, etc. What about those who arrive at the hospitals and are never identified? Let’s look at these John Does but from a different angle- from the perspective of the emergency hospital staff who receive and treat them rather than from the outside viewer.

Scanning a patient for identification

Imagine this: A man in his 50’s arrived in the emergency room, wheeled in by paramedics, shaven head, brown eyes, unconscious. To make matters worse, he had no materials on him that could have helped the staff with his identity for crosschecking with their patient matching system– no wallet, cellphone, papers, or anything at all. To top it all off, he did not have any distinguishing features such as a tattoo or scar. This incident was back in 2017- a car hit him in January, and he was rushed in with a fatal brain injury to Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center. He did not have any visitors, nor was he ever reported missing. Sadly, he passed away being a John Doe, no one ever knowing who he was.

This is just one example of how serious and pressurizing it is for the hospital staff to deal with such emergencies regarding patient matching systems, primarily when they consist of a John Doe. In these cases, they are required to become a form of detective in order to determine the identities of these unknown patients when they arrive at the hospitals. This is done for several reasons: firstly, finding the identity helps with the treatment- the staff can then determine the patient’s medical history and whether he/she has any complications or not. Also, it allows them to find and contact a next of kin or close one to make any critical decisions if it becomes necessary. The identity also helps the hospital to contact the insurance company or government health programs, whichever the patient is associated with, regarding payment of their services.

However, there is a catch- federal laws concerning privacy make it difficult for the hospital staff to determine the unknown patients’ identities. In the previously mentioned example as well as in many similar cases, the team along with the social workers frantically rummage through whatever a John Doe brings with him- bag, clothing, phones without passwords, receipts, or whatever piece of document or device which can help them identify the individual and proceed to their patient matching system. Their efforts don’t stop there- they also question the paramedics and dispatchers. Tattoos, piercings, and scars are duly noted, and when all else fails, dental records are checked against the individual. However, because the police can only access fingerprints, it is often left unchecked, mainly because the police only involve themselves only when a criminal element is present in the situation.

Hospitals Need a Better Patient Matching System to Identify “John Does”
Hospitals Need a Better Patient Matching System to Identify “John Does”

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

These John Does are usually the ones hit by vehicles and had unfortunately left their IDs back at home, and can also be poor people with cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Other times, they are overdosed individuals. Unsurprisingly, socially isolated individuals like homeless people are the ones who are the most difficult to identify, and sadly, they are the ones who are the most common John Does in recent years.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was made to ensure the privacy of an individual’s medical data. However, in cases of these John Does, it can make patient matching increasingly difficult as the hospitals cannot release any information to those searching for missing family members regarding these patients. For instance, a patient with Alzheimer’s was admitted to a NY hospital with the name “Trauma XXX.” The police and his family members went in search for him several times at the very same hospital, but they were told nothing. Weeks later, a doctor while watching television saw that man in the news and identified him as the patient “Trauma XXX.” Afterward, when charged with why the hospital hid the patient, the staff said that they did not ask about “Trauma XXX” specifically.

Due to this incident, a lot of rules were set up and changed regarding information requests about missing persons. It consisted of following over twenty steps for hospitals, starting from notifying the reception, to taking DNA samples.

All of this could have been avoided if a fast, accurate, and reliable patient matching system was used. RightPatient is one such patient identification system that utilizes biometrics and AI. Through this, it uses iris scanning to quickly match the patients with their EHRs so that the whole patient experience can be enhanced. It also helps the physicians focus on more critical tasks such as the patients themselves instead of going through matching patients. Thus, not only is it beneficial for the patients, but it is also beneficial for the hospitals as well, creating a win-win situation for all and ensuring patient safety through the enhancement of the whole patient experience.

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!

 

Bethesda Health implements RightPatient biometric patient identification solution using iris recognition

Bethesda Health Implements Iris Biometrics for Patient Identification

Bethesda Health implements RightPatient biometric patient identification solution using iris recognition

Bethesda Health becomes the latest hospital system to implement the RightPatient® biometric patient identification solution using iris recognition.

Excited to announce that another hospital system has implemented our biometric patient identification solution using iris biometrics to help raise patient safety standards, safeguard patients from medical identity theft and fraud at the point of service, and prevent the creation of duplicate medical records.

After carefully evaluating several biometric patient identification solutions, Bethesda Health chose to deploy iris biometrics due to it’s non-contact, hygienic form factor which supports hospital infection control initiatives plus, implementation of RightPatient® poises Bethesda Health to eventually extend the use of the technology to any patient touchpoint along the care continuum that requires patient identification accuracy to ensure optimal outcomes. This is critical foresight by Bethesda staff who recognized that accurate patient identification in the new healthcare paradigm extends far beyond in or outpatient registration within their facilities and should now be addressed holistically by providing secure and accurate patient ID at any point along the care continuum where patients have access to medical care or sensitive personal health information (e.g. patient portals, mHealth apps, home health, etc.).

We welcome Bethesda Health as a trusted partner in the effort to increase patient safety, reduce duplicate medical record rates, eliminate medical identity theft, improve revenue cycle efficiency through the use of our biometric patient identification platform using iris recognition. 

For more information on the deployment, please visit the news release section of our Web site

Learn more about the advantages of using biometrics for patient identification by visiting the Resources section of our Web site.

 

iris biometrics are hygienic for patient identification in healthcare

Iris Recognition Offers Non-Contact, Hygienic Individual Identification

iris biometrics are hygienic for patient identification in healthcare

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 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)

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. 

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. 

cleaning an iris camera for patient identification in healthcare

How to Properly Clean an Iris Camera

cleaning an iris camera for patient identification in healthcare

As more hospitals adopt iris recognition for patient identification, it is important to establish a hardware maintenance initiative to maximize return on investment.

The following guest post was submitted by Joe Kubilius, Director of Product & Process Management at RightPatient®

Advantages of using iris recognition

The use of iris recognition for patient identification in healthcare is rising fast. When hospitals are presented with hardware modality options for deployment, most choose to use iris recognition for these distinct advantages:

1. Hygienic/Non-Invasive – Iris cameras do not require physical patient contact to capture biometric credentials, ensuring a safe, hygienic environment and drastically lowering the risk of patients acquiring hospital borne illness through the spread of germs and bacteria. In addition, no visible lights or lasers are used when capturing a patient’s biometric credential – they simply have their picture taken.

2. Accuracy – Iris recognition is widely considered to be the most accurate form of biometrics across the entire industry. The iris offers more detailed input when constructing biometric enrollment templates than fingerprints or facial recognition and represents one of if not the most unique biometric credential of the human body. The chances of two people having the same iris pattern is 10⁷⁸! Plus, iris recognition relies on one to many biometric matching — the only true way to prevent duplicate medical records/overlays, identify unconscious patients, and prevent medical identity theft and fraud at the point of enrollment.

3. Stability: Did you know that the human iris completely forms at 10 months of age and remains stable throughout your life? Just about every other human biometric attribute can change over time which has a negative impact on system performance and possibly requiring frequent re-enrollment. 

4. Speed – Iris recognition is extremely fast, typically returning results in 3 seconds or less even for databases containing millions of records.

As hospitals increase their use of iris recognition, it’s important to remember that hardware maintenance is key to maximizing ROI and avoiding hardware replacement costs. Responsible investments in biometric solutions requires establishing an ongoing hardware maintenance initiative to ensure longevity and optimal system performance.

How to clean an iris camera

Even though patients do not come into direct contact with an iris camera, staff may have limited positioning contact with the device to ensure it properly captures quality photographs. Plus, considering the fact that these devices are used in a healthcare environment, patients or staff may accidentally sneeze or cough on or near the camera causing a need to disinfect. What’s important to remember is that these devices are digital cameras and just like any other biometric hardware device used within a hospital setting, need periodic maintenance to ensure optimal performance. Here are the proper steps to clean an iris camera:

Materials Needed:

  • Use either a 70%~83% Ethanol mix solution or 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) as the cleaning agent
  • Only use a microfiber cloth to clean the camera

Steps:

  • Apply a small amount of ethanol to microfiber cloth and wipe with care but do not rub too hard
  • Wipe camera with a dry microfiber cloth

Cautions:

  • Rubbing with pure alcohol could run the risk of removing the paint or finish from the camera
  • Do not use disinfection medicine with Benzene, Methanol and Acetone as a cleaning solution on the camera

Conclusion

Properly maintaining biometric hardware is key to maximizing ROI and eliminates fees for replacement cameras. Plus, to achieve optimal system performance that ensures patient enrollment success and 100% identification accuracy requires ongoing maintenance that includes cleaning the iris camera when needed. We hope these tips have been helpful!

Director of Product & Process ManagementJoe Kubilius is Director of Product and Process Management with RightPatient®. With over 10 years of experience in the design, development, and implementation of biometric identity management solutions, Joe has been integral to the success of hundreds of large and small scale deployments across the globe.

Read more

using iris biometrics for patient identification helps increase patient safety

Iris Biometrics Deployments Increasing for Patient Identification in Healthcare

using iris biometrics for patient identification helps increase patient safety

Terrebonne General Medical Center (TGMC) is the latest hospital to leverage the advantages of iris biometrics for patient identification.

The following post was written by David Cuberos, Enterprise Sales Consultant with RightPatient®

This week, we announced another hospital that has adopted our biometric patient identification platform using iris biometrics. Like most hospitals who adopt biometrics for patient ID, Terrebonne Regional Medical Center in Houma, LA conducted a thorough evaluation of several different biometric modalities (including fingerprint and palm vein) and ultimately concluded that iris biometrics was the best fit to help accomplish the goals established before the deployment – reduction of duplicate and overlay medical records, elimination of healthcare fraud and medical identity theft, patient data integrity improvement, and raising patient safety standards. Plus, Terrebonne staff recognized that iris biometrics for identification is readily accepted by patients – a key metric to ensure deployment success.

As we continue our journey to help hospitals across the world establish safer and more secure methods of identifying patients to ensure their safety across the care continuum, increasingly we see more healthcare organizations opting to deploy iris biometrics over other modalities because of the distinct, unique advantages that this technology offers:

  • Hygiene –  Iris biometrics used a sophisticated digital camera to take a photograph of a patient, requiring no contact with a hardware device by the patient to help support hospital infection control and eliminate the spread of germs, bacteria, and illness.
  • Biometric matching type – The only way to prevent duplicate medical records and healthcare fraud while at the same time improving patient data integrity is to deploy a biometric patient identification solution that compares a captured biometric enrollment template and compares it to all stored templates in a database during enrollment – otherwise known as a “one-to-many” comparison. It is proven to be the only way to increase patient data integrity across an HIE or IDN and iris biometrics has the unique ability to deliver this one-to-many biometric matching type. In addition, if healthcare organizations seek to leverage biometrics for patient identification to identify unconscious patients, the only way to accomplish this is through a one-to-many biometric matching system.
  • Search speed & accuracy – Iris biometrics for patient identification in healthcare offers the fastest and most accurate technology on the market. For example, iris biometrics has the capability to search a database containing millions of records and provide a match or non-match within seconds. Plus, iris recognition is widely viewed across the biometrics industry as one of, if not the most accurate biometric identification technology.
  • Stability – Did you know that the human iris fully develops at 10 months of age, and remains stable throughout your life? Wikipedia describes the iris as:

“…an internal organ that is well protected against damage and wear by a highly transparent and sensitive membrane (the cornea). This distinguishes it from fingerprints, which can be difficult to recognize after years of certain types of manual labor. The iris is mostly flat, and its geometric configuration is only controlled by two complementary muscles (the sphincter pupillae and dilator pupillae) that control the diameter of the pupil. This makes the iris shape far more predictable than, for instance, that of the face.” (via Wikipedia, http://bit.ly/1B8Zlls)

This stability eliminates the need to re-enroll patients as is the case with other biometric patient identifications systems that rely on alternate credentials, such as palm vein.

Our experience across a wide variety of healthcare environments with varying conditions has proven that when offered the choice of modalities, more hospitals are turning to iris biometrics for patient identification because of the unique advantages it offers over the alternatives. We expect to see iris biometrics for patient ID continue to proliferate around the world as the single, trusted source to ensure the highest levels of patient safety and to help improve patient data integrity both at the local and national levels.

Watch a short video on the reasons that Terrebonne implemented iris biometrics for patient identification: 

What are your thoughts on the use of iris recognition for patient identification in healthcare? Please share your thoughts and comments with us below.

biometric patient identification prevents duplicate medical recordsDavid Cuberos is an Enterprise Sales Consultant with RightPatient® helping hospitals and healthcare organizations realize the benefits of implementing biometrics for patient identification to; increase patient safety, eliminate duplicate medical records and overlays, and prevent medical identity theft and healthcare fraud. 

 

 

the use of biometrics for patient identification is increasing in the healthcare industry

Fortune Magazine Article Highlights Growing Use of Biometrics for Patient Identification

the use of biometrics for patient identification is increasing in the healthcare industry

A patient has their photo captured with an iris recognition camera at a hospital that has deployed biometrics for patient identification.

Excellent article in Fortune magazine today written by Laura Shin that addresses the topic of healthcare data breaches and whether or not the increasing use of biometrics for patient identification will add a layer of protection to help thwart hackers in the future and eliminate medical identity theft and healthcare fraud. 

We are grateful that Laura included us in her research for the article, mentioning our work with implementing iris biometrics for patient identification at Novant Health’s Clemmons Medical Center location and a specific case of when a father brought his son into their facility, pointing out that: Read more

removing the word "scan" from iris recognition

Removing the Word “Scan” from Iris Recognition for Healthcare Biometrics

Look no farther for a sensationalized depiction of biometric identification technology than the Tom Cruise movie “Minorty Report.” Remember this scene?:

Packed with scenarios that stretch the truth on how biometric technology actually works, the movie has unfortunately become a rallying cry for those opposed to the technology as an example of just how invasive the technology is to our personal privacy. While there are arguments to be made on both sides on whether biometric identification technology is a privacy detractor or a privacy boost, one thing is true: In the real world, front end biometric hardware devices work much differently than what we see on the big screen or when flipping through the pages of a science fiction novel. Which brings us to the topic of iris recognition.  Read more