RightPatient® Helps Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital Fight Healthcare Fraud


Prescription Drug Abuse

Eliminating fraud is a pressing issue in healthcare that continues to threaten patient safety. The FBI states on their Web site: “With no signs of slowing down, healthcare fraud is a rising threat, with national health care expenditures estimated to exceed $3 trillion in 2014 and spending continuing to outpace inflation.” On average, healthcare fraud accounts for 10% of our nation’s annual healthcare expenditure.


Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital recently used photo biometrics to prevent healthcare fraud.

One form of healthcare fraud seen in emergency departments at hospitals around the country is individuals attempting to commit identity theft in order to obtain prescription medication. With approximately 8.76 million people in the U.S. abusing prescription medication and the lion’s share of those medications coming from a doctor’s prescription, medical facilities are proactively stepping up their efforts to implement stronger patient identification safeguards to ensure that the problem is addressed. After all, many patients may not understand the health dangers and risks of someone stealing your identity and inaccurate health data being attributed to your medical record – it is extremely dangerous and could result in serious injury, even death should a clinician act on incorrect protected health data (PHI) in your medical record. 

Just how bad is the problem of prescription drug abuse in the U.S.? Consider the fact that every day in the United States, 44 people die as a result of prescription opioid overdose. Fortunately, there are tools available to catch identity fraud at the point-of-service in hospitals before harm is done.

Using Photo Biometrics to Deter Healthcare Fraud

Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital implemented the RightPatient® patient identity management solutionusing photo biometrics to help support patient safety, eliminate duplicate medical records, and prevent and deter medical identity theft. Recently, a patient arrived at the Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital emergency room seeking treatment for an injury that according to the patient had just occurred in the prior hour. The patient signed in under a fraudulent name, date of birth, address, invalid marital status, a disconnected phone number, invalid employment status, fraudulent emergency contact, and an invalid social security number. The patient proceeded with registration, and signed all admission paperwork under the fraudulent information.


Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital recently used photo biometrics to prevent healthcare fraud.

During the registration process, the registration clerk used the RightPatient® photo biometrics solution to enroll the patient since this was (according the patient) the first time they had ever been to the hospital. The RightPatient® system worked just as it was designed, sending the registration clerk an alert that indicated the patent had been previously enrolled and that their biometric credentials had already been linked to another unique electronic medical record, providing the medical record number the patient had been registered under.

The clerk was then able to access the medical record the patient had been previously registered under and after review, Hugh Chatham was able to see other visits for that same day in other clinic/practice locations. A decision was made to contact local authorities.

Thanks to the RightPatient® software and the efforts of this staff member, Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital was able to securely identify the patient, avoid duplicate medical records, prevent identity theft and associated healthcare costs, and help maintain a safe environment for patients. 


Encouraging healthcare facilities to implement safeguards that ensure accurate patient authentication through technologies such as photo biometrics has been our mission since we founded RightPatient®. We will continue to share our success stories with others to help educate and inform in the overall effort to remove fraud and increase patient safety in healthcare.

Have a story on how the use of biometrics prevented a potential case of healthcare fraud? Please share it with us in the comments!


Why Telemedicine Needs Secure Patient Identification


Telemedicine/Telehealth is growing….fast

It’s difficult to call telemedicine the shiny new object in healthcare, mostly because it’s origin can be traced back to the first half of the 20th century.  In fact, the first people to use video communication for medical purposes were clinicians at the University of Nebraska who in 1959 established a two-way television setup to transmit information to medical students across campus, and five years later linked with a state hospital to perform video consultations. (source:


The rising use of telemedicine services in healthcare demands a more holistic approach to accurate patient identification.

Since then, telemedicine has rapidly evolved as a trusted source of care, particularly for patients living in rural areas who traditionally have limited access to healthcare, and the industry is expected to reach 7 million patients worldwide by 2018, fueling an 18 percent growth rate by 2020. This is good news for a wide swath of key players in healthcare, especially providers who are already laser focused on advancing healthcare’s “triple aim” – improving the patient experience, improving population health, and reducing the per capita cost of care, plus telemedicine has proven to be a strong tool to increase patient engagement. Patients stand to benefit handsomely from advances in telemedicine too for its convenience and accessibility, quickly latching on to the “care when and where you want it” mantra of the technology.

Yet, for all it’s convenience and increased accessibility, healthcare providers should take caution on procedures in place to identify patient identities prior to administering telemedicine services. Advances in telemedicine combined with an influx of newly insured patients under The Affordable Care Act have undoubtedly spawned opportunities for patients to commit fraud by stealing or swapping identities to receive services they aren’t eligible for. Undoubtedly the issue of limited reimbursement continues to be a major barrier to the expansion of telehealth — shouldn’t providers pay more attention to adopting technology that establishes a concrete and indisputable audit trail for telemedicine services?

What can telemedicine healthcare providers do to increase patient identification accuracy and adopt a strategy that has the capability to address the need to ensure a patient is who they claim to be?

Telemedicine patient ID laws murky, differ from state to state

As is the case with administering a lot of other digital health tools in healthcare, rules and regulations are fragmented and differ from state to state. Some states like Maryland, Virginia, and New Mexicohave laws and regulations that facilitate the greater use of telemedicineyet others such as Texas are actively seeking to pass laws that restrict telemedicine services to only those patients who have previously seen a doctor. 

Regulating telemedicine is a tricky endeavor in healthcare. Most healthcare providers (especially those in medically underserved, rural communities) want to see the expansion of telemedicine because of the potential gains in individual and population health plus increasing the convenience of healthcare delivery helps build patient loyalty and speciality physician access. Think about how much good will is built with chronically ill patients who don’t have to make a painful journey to the doctor’s office to receive care!

However, the potential risks of fraud and medical identity theft by telemedicine patients because of the apparent ease of assuming another person’s identity threatens to jeopardize patient safety and compromise patient data integrity which is essential to maintain in an era of increased interoperability and data sharing. Perhaps Alison Diana, formerly of Information Week, summed it up best by saying: “With multiple organizations providing their well-meaning suggestions, states following their own rules, and insurers taking various strategies, telehealth adoption is hampered by fear, uncertainty, and doubt.”

What’s clear is that telemedicine is yet another tool in a provider’s toolbox that deserves the same patient identification scrutiny and caution given to a face-to-face encounter. Health data security is an issue in healthcare that has evolved beyond brick and mortar identification scenarios and expanded to any point along the care continuum where a patient has access to data or care services. As President and CEO Russell Branzell and Board Chair Charles Christian of CHIME said, “As data exchange increases among providers, patient data matching errors and mismatches will become exponentially more dangerous and costly.” (source:

With the number of employers increasing employee telemedicine service offerings and the number of people now eligible for these services now estimated to be in the tens of millions, the healthcare industry has a vested interest to ensure 100% accurate patient identification. 

Holistic patient identification is the new norm

The digital age of medicine has created a host of new patient touchpoints along the care continuum that require healthcare providers to reassess their patient identification policies to ensure that patients are safe, treatment is accurate, protected health information is attributed to the correct medical record and fraud does not cause medical errors that could increase provider liabilities. The conundrum for healthcare providers is identifying a patient identification technology that has the capability to provide accurate patient identification no matter where a patient is along that care continuum and can flexibly be used at ANY touchpoint, regardless if it’s virtual or physical.

What’s interesting about the explosion of these new patient touchpoints and accessibility is that provider focus (justifiably) is usually targeted on technology, compliance, and reimbursement — all important components to ensure success. For example, articles prognosticating about what telemedicine needs to succeed rarely address adopting stricter patient identification technology to protect both patient and provider. However, our field research demonstrates that healthcare providers are increasingly paying closer attention to perhaps the most essential element of any digital health tool, the absolute necessity of ensuring accurate patient identification prior to administering care.

When it comes to accurate patient identification, telemedicine should not be treated any differently than, say, access to a patient portal or a physical trip to a doctor’s office. Holistic patient identification accuracy protocols that have the flexibility to be used in different capacities but ultimately to achieve the same purpose — ensuring patient identification accuracy and patient data integrity no matter when or where a patient seeks access to medical information or services.

Photo biometrics a perfect fit for patient ID in telemedicine

One patient identification technology surging to meet the demand for holistic patient identification in healthcare is biometrics.  The use of biometrics for accurate patient identification in healthcare offers immediate, sustainable benefits (increases in patient safety, reductions of duplicate medical records, elimination of fraud) but what often goes unnoticed are broader, tangential advantages that can be applied to new patient touchpoints along the care continuum.

For example, a healthcare provider using photo biometrics for patient identification in healthcare can ensure accurate patient identification at the point of service then have the ability to verify that same patient’s identity through a portal, or prior to a telemedicine session using facial recognition. Hospital re-admission reduction provides an excellent example of a tangential benefit biometrics delivers to the healthcare industry. By ensuring the accuracy of a patient’s identity during a home health visit or telemedicine session (key components to reduce re-admits), healthcare providers can administer accurate, timely patient care that helps reduce the possibility of a re-admission which significantly adds to the cost of care and can result in Medicare reimbursement reductions. 

Biometrics for patient identification offers another distinct advantage to telemedicine — an indisputable audit trail. Healthcare providers can rest assured that they now have a concrete list showing which patient accessed telemedicine services and what day and time they received the services. In this era of shifting regulations and evolving legislation, healthcare providers who implement photo biometrics for patient identification are at a distinct advantage over those that may rely on more antiquated methods to verify patient identities.

Although the use of photo biometrics for holistic patient identification across the care continuum is a new concept in healthcare, more providers understand its value and are exploring the use of this technology. 

Is patient identification for telemedicine services a concern for you? What specific challenges do you face?

Leave us a comment below!

RightPatient protects patient privacy and patient safety

Takeaways from the 2015 NE NAHAM Regional Conference – “Improving the Patient Experience”

RightPatient protects patient privacy and patient safety
Takeaways from the 2015 NE NAHAM Regional Conference - "Improving the Patient Experience"

David Cuberos, Enterprise Sales consultant with RightPatient®, poses with Bryan Marcotte from Baystate Health, winner of the gift card door prize at the 2015 NE NAHAM regional conference.

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

The time that we spend meeting with patient access professionals in the field is important to us. It’s an opportunity for our team to better understand core patient access functions/workflow and how these critical front line staffers help mold the patient experience as a first point of contact in what can often be a long, complex journey through the healthcare system. Our strong support for the National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM) and their regional chapters is a key relationship — instrumental to our product and service design and the ability for us as healthcare software vendors to deliver a solution that meets the dynamic needs of these healthcare professionals and moves the patient safety needle in a positive direction.

Last week, we had the opportunity to meet with patient access professionals from the northeast region of the U.S. to discuss the patient access professionals’ impact on the patient experience. We learned a lot about challenges faced by patient access staff, how it impacts workflow, and what new technology solutions are available to help meet the shifting and often complex demands of this position. 

We also had the opportunity to discuss the ongoing conundrum of achieving accurate patient identification with show attendees and display our biometric patient identification solution that helps to increase patient safety and eliminate duplicate medical records/overlays and prevent medical identity theft and healthcare fraud. This was an ideal environment for us to not only help educate attendees on the value of implementing a patient identification solution, but it also provided us the opportunity to clear up misunderstandings about how this technology operates in a healthcare setting. As we do at all events, we learned a great deal about what types of questions healthcare professionals have about this technology and walked away with some key takeaways:

1. Retinal scanning and iris recognition are two different biometric technologies: This is a recurring misunderstanding we consistently see wherever we go. Due to the fact that both retinal scanning and iris recognition use the human eye for identification, most people believe that the technology is the same. In fact, the two are very different – explained in this blog post we wrote that breaks down the differences between iris recognition and retinal scanning.

2. Patient acceptance of iris recognition is extremely high: Some believe that using the iris as a unique identification credential can invoke patient trepidation to register their biometrics as a way to protect their identity and ensure accurate treatment throughout the care continuum. However, when healthcare staff observes the iris camera in person, they realize that it is perhaps the least invasive biometric modality because it simply takes a high-resolution digital photograph of the patient and can identify them in less than three seconds. Our field research supports patient acceptance of iris recognition for identification, with over a 99% acceptance rate.

3. Proper due diligence of biometric patient ID vendors is critical: Did you know that not all biometric matching types support the elimination of duplicate medical records or have the ability to prevent medical identity theft and healthcare fraud in real-time? Are you concerned about implementing a contact dependent biometric modality for patient identification that may jeopardize hospital infection control policies or require additional investments in a cleaning solution or wipes after each use? Does a biometric identification system seamlessly integrate with your electronic health record system to accurately authenticate patients from any touchpoint along the care continuum? Does your biometric patient identification solution have the ability to secure remote access to protected health information (PHI) from patient portals and/or mHealth apps

These are all important to ask when evaluating biometric patient identification vendors but our experience is that many hospitals aren’t asking the right questions. 

4. Hospital resources to resolving duplicate medical records are staggering: We continue to be amazed at the number of hospital staff dedicated to resolving duplicate medical records. In fact we spoke with a few attendees who mentioned that they have “teams of people” dealing with duplicate medical record clean-up. Although we can’t understate enough the importance of maintaining clean data, we have longed believed that implementation of modern patient identification technologies that have the ability to not only clean a master patient index (MPI), but sustain the integrity of the data moving forward. The key to preventing duplicate medical records is implementation of technology that can accurately identify patients no matter where they are along the care continuum.  

5. Patient experience can be boosted through the use of biometric patient identification technology: Patients pay close attention to their experience at a medical facility. Patient knowledge of the negative effects of duplicate medical records and medical identity theft has increased their empowerment to seek services at facilities where their identities are protected. Implementing a biometric patient identification solution to protect patient identities invokes the emotion that medical facilities care about safeguarding patient safety and privacy. 

Understanding how to improve the patient experience in healthcare requires careful examination of processes and workflow that bring convenience and demonstrate a genuine interest in protecting patient identities. We continue in our mission to provide the most comprehensive and holistic patient identification solutions available to help improve the patient experience in healthcare.

A special shout out to Bryan Marcotte from Baystate Health as the winner of the gift card door prize. Congratulations Bryan!

How can we help you to improve the patient experience at your medical facility?

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.


Improving Mobile Patient Identification with Wireless Technology


Patient Identification isn’t Cookie Cutter

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


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

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

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

The Flexibility of Free Standing Patient Identification in ED or Bedside

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

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

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


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

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

Brad Marshall works for RightPatient - the industry's best biometric patient identification solution.Brad Marshall is an Enterprise Development Consultant with RightPatient®. With several years of experience implementing both large and small scale biometric patient identification projects in healthcare, Brad works closely with key hospital executives and front line staff to ensure project success.


Bethesda Health Implements Iris Biometrics for Patient Identification


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.


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

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.


In Your Face: The Future of Federated Patient Identification


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

The Patient ID Problem

The recurring and complex issue of how to establish and maintain accurate patient identification in healthcare and how to establish a federated patient identity is getting a lot of attention these days. Accurate patient identification in healthcare is a topic that has always garnered attention and concern, but perhaps it has gained momentum and urgency due to the rapid digitization of the industry and the concerted push for interoperability and national health information exchange to improve individual and population health. The push for increased interoperability could make patient data matching errors and mismatches exponentially more problematic and dangerous and it is widely believed that inadequate patient identification continues to jeopardize patient safety and artificially inflate the cost of care.


Can the use of facial recognition biometrics help establish a federated patient identity credential in healthcare?

Opinions on the most effective patient identification and patient matching strategies run the gamut. Some say standardizing patient demographic data will help, others feel that establishing a national patient identifier is the answer to the problem. What’s clear is that in the absence of any broad improvements to patient identification, the goal of establishing longitudinal patient records reflecting a patient’s experience across the care continuum, payers, geographic locations, and stages of life, will remain elusive. 

One idea that is catching on with healthcare providers to help improve patient identification in healthcare is capturing a photo during registration that is linked to a unique electronic medical record. 

Use of Patient Photos Increasing

Nearly 2.3 million people were victims of medical identity theft in 2014, according to the “Fifth Annual Study on Medical Identity Theft” released earlier this year by the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA), an industry trade association of healthcare providers, payers and service providers – a 21% increase over the 2013 number of 1.8 million. Medical identity theft and healthcare fraud continue to be a pervasive problem throughout the industry and in the absence of a solution, the problem is only going to get worse as millions more Americans are brought into the healthcare fold through Obamacare. 

To help fight the increase in medical identity theft and to ensure a patient’s identity is accurately verified at each step along the care continuum, many healthcare facilities are capturing a patient’s photo at registration and linking that to a unique electronic medical record. The idea is an attempt to protect patient privacy, ensure accurate insurance benefits and subsequent reimbursement, and connect a face with a name, providing another option for identification besides date of birth. The idea is catching on quickly and many are embracing the use of patient photos to increase security and improve patient safety, but what often goes unrealized is the potential for a patient photo to be leveraged as a unique identification credential across the entire care continuum.

Leveraging Patient Photos for a Federated Identity Across the Care Continuum

Whenever we hear the words “patient identification” most of us envision sitting across a registration desk at a hospital or doctor’s office providing demographic data and our driver’s license and/or insurance card. However, patient identification in healthcare has evolved to now include accurate identification at each and every patient touchpoint along the care continuum including patient portals, mhealth apps, telehealth, and home health just to name a few. One of the smartest strategies to ensure accurate patient identification at any point along the care continuum is to capture a patient’s photo at registration and then leverage that photo along the care continuum through biometric facial recognition technology. 

Let’s take patient portals for example. Most of us know that Meaningful Use Stage 2 mandates that healthcare providers provide patients the ability to electronically view, download, and transmit health information. The most popular means to that end is the increasing use of patient portals yet many providers rely on antiquated identification protocols such as user names and passwords to protect access to this personal health information (PHI). The problem is relying on user names, passwords, and/or personal identification numbers (PINs) is risky and could potentially open the door to third party data breaches which are decimating the industry and exposing millions of patients’ PHI. 

As an alternative to using user names and passwords, consider a healthcare organization that captures a patient’s photo during registration. Not only is that photo visible to patient registration staff and clinicians at each episode along the care continuum as a second form of multi-factor authentication, but if a patient signs into a patient portal and the hospital has deployed facial recognition identification to authorize a patient’s identity prior to logging in, the hospital has just successfully leveraged that photo as an identification credential for access to their PHI. Same goes for mHealth apps. Biometric patient identification providers that offer the value and flexibility of facial recognition authentication can also help third party developers and healthcare providers add this technology to off-the-shelf (OTS) or custom mHealth apps as a more secure way of identifying patients with the ability to work with any standard camera. 

Coupled with the fact that 80% of patients are open to healthcare interactions on smart devices but remain highly sensitive to sharing health data, facial recognition biometrics for accurate identification has already proven itself as a more secure alternative than user names and passwords not to mention the fact that 69% of 16 -24 year olds recently polled indicated they believe biometrics will be faster and easier than passwords and PINs and half foresee the death of passwords by the year 2020.  

Writing on the Wall?

With predictions that 50% of smartphones sold by 2019 will have a fingerprint sensor and over a billion biometric mobile devices will ship worldwide by the year 2020 (all equipped with cameras sophisticated enough to use facial recognition), the evolution of patient identification in healthcare is tilting more towards the use of biometrics to replace user names, passwords, and PINs as the preferred method of authentication due to it’s increased security and the flexibility to apply the technology for accurate identification at more patient touchpoints borne from the rapid digitization of the industry. Considering the fact that 41% of consumers stress over smartphone mobile security and biometrics are already overtaking passwords as the de facto identification credential on smartphones, could this be the perfect storm for a rise in the use of facial recognition for accurate patient identification?

Responsible approaches to improving patient identification in healthcare must now include addressing accuracy at any touchpoint where a patient can now access PHI. The advent of facial recognition as a unique identifier in a singular or multi-factor environment is a smart answer to the challenge of ensuring a patient receives accurate care throughout the continuum no matter if they are physically present or accessing services from cyberspace.

Since more patients expect providers to ensure privacy and protect their PHI, is it time to more closely examine implementation of a patient identification solution that leverages biometric facial recognition? 

In Your Face: The Future of Federated Patient IdentificationMichael Trader is President and Co-Founder of RightPatient®. Michael is responsible for overseeing business development and marketing activities, government outreach, and for providing senior leadership on business and policy issues.




The Difference Between 1:N, 1:1, and 1:Few and Why it Matters in Patient ID


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

Understanding the Digital World

In a world rife with digital devices and electronic gadgets, few of us probably know or understand how they actually work. Think about a smartphone for example – myriad buttons, switches, cameras, lights, and sounds instruct us to swipe this, or press that and we oblige. After all, the complexity of the backend processor and sensor network that makes these devices do what they do is probably of little interest to most of us, myself included.


Did you know that not all biometric patient ID systems have backend matching types that can prevent duplicates, eliminate medical ID theft, and improve patient data integrity? Only 1:N biometric matching has this capability.

Instead what we focus on is the end result – what you see, hear, and experience when you use a digital device. Few would argue that it’s necessary or even mandatory to have a thorough understanding of backend functionality on any digital device in order to appreciate the value it brings to our lives. For biometric patient identification solutions, this is definitely not the case.

Why Biometric Patient ID Technology is Different

Understanding biometric matching types is critical when selecting a patient identification solution. Most of us probably see biometric matching as rather black and white — for example, you place your finger on a fingerprint reader, a backend software program recognizes and verifies your identity, and you are on your merry way. The problem is that backend biometric matching technology is not cookie cutter and there are different matching types that carry different capabilities.

Why is this important to know and understand? We know that most healthcare organizations invest in the use of biometric patient ID solutions to increase patient safety by:

  • Eliminating medical identity theft and fraud at the point of service
  • Preventing duplicate medical records and overlays
  • Achieving and sustaining patient data integrity
  • Safeguarding personal health information (PHI)
  • Identifying unconscious or unknown patients

What most people don’t realize is that depending on which biometric matching type you select, achieving these goals is not 100% attainable with select patient ID solutions. The ONLY way to achieve the bulleted objectives is to implement a system that, during patient enrollment, compares a patient’s stored biometric template against ALL stored templates in the biometric database. If the ultimate goal is to improve patient safety and patient data integrity, only a one-to-many (1:N) biometric matching type can accomplish this.

Let’s take a closer look at the available biometric matching types and what they have the ability to do.

Understanding the Differences Between Biometric Matching Types

Biometric matching types can be categorized as: One-to-many or “Identification” (1:N), one-to-one or “Verification” (1:1), and 1:Few Segmented “Identification” (1:Few). Here is a breakdown of each matching type and how to interpret their capabilities:

  • (1:1) Verification: 1:1 biometric “verification” matching authenticates a patient’s identity by comparing a captured biometric template with a biometric template pre-stored in a database. 1:1 biometric matching rejects or accepts a patient’s identity but before the comparison takes place, hospital staff must first input a personally identifiable credential (e.g. – a date of birth, gender, etc.) prior to comparing a stored biometric template against a live scan. This personally identifiable credential points to a specific enrollment template in the database so using a 1:1 matching type answers the question, “Is a patient who they claim to be.”

Example: A patient walks into the ED. Hospital staff asks the patient for their date of birth then scans the patient’s biometric credential to compare it against the stored template for that patient to verify that the patient is who they claim to be. With 1:1 biometric matching, the registrar has to retrieve a patient’s medical record first. Assuming the patient has been previously enrolled, they then scan their biometric and the system compares the captured data only against the data on file for that medical record.

Takeaway: 1:1 biometric verification is beneficial for verifying a patient’s claimed identity but since it does not search the stored biometric template database in its entirety, it does not have the ability to prevent medical identity theft or fraud at the point of service nor does it have the capability to identify an unconscious or unknown patient since a personally identifiable credential is needed prior to conducting the biometric scan.

  • (1:Few) Segmented Identification: 1:Few biometric matching compares a patient’s captured biometric template against a segmented portion of the entire biometric database, therefore a personally identifiable credential must be provided prior to the biometric scan to determine the subset of biometric templates to compare against. For example, a patient would provide a date of birth prior to the biometric scan and a 1:Few segmented identification system would then compare that patient’s biometric template only against the templates that share the same date of birth.

Example: A patient arrives at a medical facility for treatment. At registration, hospital staff asks the patient for their date of birth which segments the biometric database to only those records that share the same date of birth and then captures the patient’s biometric credential for comparison against the segmented database.    

Takeaway: 1:Few segmented identification does not have the ability to search an entire biometric database in real time to prevent the creation of duplicate medical records or eliminate medical identity theft or fraud at the point of service. What if a patient attempting to commit fraud had previously enrolled their biometric credentials and it was linked to another electronic medical record, then returns to the medical facility claiming another identity and providing a falsified, different date of birth? Hospital staff would then link that patient’s biometric credentials to another electronic medical record and a 1:Few segmented identification matching type would not be able to catch the fraud or prevent a duplicate medical record for this patient. In addition,  if a patient arrived unconscious without any identification credentials in the ED, 1:Few segmented identification does not have the ability to identify them because a personally identifiable credential is required. How would an unconscious, unknown patient be able to provide this? Biometric patient ID matching systems based on 1:Few segmented identification do not have the ability to identify unconscious/unknown patients.

  • (1:N) Patient Identification: A one-to-many (1:N) biometric identification matching system instantly compares a patient’s captured biometric template against ALL stored biometric templates in the system. No other information is required from the patient other than their biometric credentials and this matching type represents the only true de-duplication mechanism and the only way to prevent duplicate medical records to achieve and sustain patient data integrity. 1:N biometric mathcing types ensure that once a patient enrolls, it is impossible to create a duplicate medical record for that patient.

Example: A patient arrives at a hospital for outpatient surgery. At the registration desk, hospital staff takes a patient’s photo with an iris recognition camera. The backend software instantly compares that patient’s biometric credentials to every single stored biometric template in the database.

Takeaway: 1:N biometric matching is the only true way to prevent duplicate medical records and overlays and eliminate medical identity theft and healthcare fraud at the point of service. By searching the ENTIRE biometric enrollment template database, hospital staff ensures that a patient has not tried to claim another patient’s identity, and is able to access the only electronic medical record linked to that patient with confidence. If a healthcare organization seeks to improve and sustain patient data integrity and patient safety, 1:N biometric searches are the only way to accomplish this. In our 1:Few example above, if an unconscious, unknown patient arrived in the ED and a hospital had implemented a biometric patient ID   system with 1:N matching, hospital staff would only need to capture the patient’s biometric credential for accurate identification.

Understanding the capabilities and limitations of biometric matching types is key to select a biometric patient ID system that will accomplish the goals of improving patient safety and patient data integrity in healthcare. Take the time to ask the right questions when evaluating a biometric patient ID solutions so you won’t be left in the dark about what a solution can and can’t achieve.

Have you implemented a biometric patient ID system based on 1:1 or 1:Few segmented matching type and did not understand the limitations? Please share your comments and feedback below!

The Difference Between 1:N, 1:1, and 1:Few and Why it Matters in Patient IDJoe 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.

accurate patient identification in healthcare discussed during 09/11/15 #HITs,m tweet chat

#HITsm Tweetchat Highlights Progress, Obstacles for Patient Identification in Healthcare

accurate patient identification in healthcare discussed during 09/11/15 #HITs,m tweet chat
#HITsm Tweetchat Highlights Progress, Obstacles for Patient Identification in Healthcare

Healthcare professionals from around the world discussed the dilemma of achieving accurate patient identification in healthcare during the 09.11.15 #HITsm tweetchat. (Photo courtesy of HL7 Standards)

We had the honor of hosting the weekly #HITsm Twitterchat this past Friday centered on the topic of patient identification in healthcare. For those not aware of the #HITsm weekly chat, the HL7 Standards Web site deftly describes it as:

“…#HITsm is an acronym for “healthcare IT social media” and we focus on current topics that are influencing healthcare technology, health IT, and the use of social media in healthcare.” (courtesy of:

The chat demographic spans a wide range of healthcare professionals — vendors, doctors, patients, industry experts, and even national professional healthcare organizations — all coalescing for one hour each week to discuss a wide range of topics related to health IT. 

Considering the importance of establishing accurate patient identification in healthcare and it’s ripple effect to many other aspects of care delivery, interoperability, accountability, and improving individual and population health, we selected this as a topic for the weekly discussion. Included in the discussion was an evaluation and assessment of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives’ (CHIME) national patient identity challenge to determine if it will actually produce a solution that will eradicate the burdens of matching patient data and bring us closer to establishing higher data integrity, reducing medical errors, and improving care.

Topics for the chat included:

1. Establishing a national patient identifier continues to be a hot debate – will it ever materialize? Are there tangible benefits to a national patient identifier?
2. Will @CIOCHIME’s national patient ID challenge eradicate the burdens of matching patient data and bring us closer to establishing higher data integrity, reducing medical errors, and improving care?
3. Will true healthcare interoperability ever be realized in the absence of fixing the problem of inaccurate patientID?
4. Do patients now have an inherently larger role to ensure the accuracy of their medical records?
5. Does the explosion of mobile devices, telehealth, & mhealth tools raise the urgency level for healthcare providers to implement stronger patient ID technology?
6. What new patient identification technologies show promise to help improve patient matching and interoperability?

Responses, comments, and opinions to these topics were insightful and intelligent. Here is a list of select responses and feedback to some of the topics:

Topic 1: Establishing a national patient identifier continues to be a hot debate – will it ever materialize? Are there tangible benefits to a national patient identifier?

Topic 2: Will @CIOCHIME’s national patient ID challenge eradicate the burdens of matching patient data and bring us closer to establishing higher data integrity, reducing medical errors, and improving care?

Topic 3: Will true healthcare #interoperability ever be realized in the absence of fixing the problem of inaccurate #patientID?

Topic 4: Do patients now have an inherently larger role to ensure the accuracy of their medical records?

Topic 5: Does the explosion of mobile devices, telehealth, & mhealth tools raise the urgency level for healthcare providers to implement stronger patient ID technology?

          T5: Again, use case specific. Many of the use cases today won’t benefit from national pat id… BUT… not say to they won’t #HITsm

Topic 6: What new patient identification technologies show promise to help improve patient matching and interoperability?

           #HITsm T6 In healthcare, I would expect less fraud w biometric ID’s. Solves unconscious patient problem and the form time problem. #HITsm

A copy of the complete chat transcript can be found here.

As you can see from the selected tweets, the topic of achieving accurate patient identification in healthcare is not easy especially in the context of identifying a solution that can be used as a universal credential. We were pleased that the #HITsm tweet chat participants provided pragmatic, intelligent comments and insight to our questions demonstrating their keen ability to identify the root causes of achieving a national patient identifier and their tacit support for CHIME’s contest and prowess to thrust this complex issue into the national spotlight.

Our thanks to @OchoTex and @michenoteboom for providing us the opportunity to host their weekly #HITsm chat on patient identification in healthcare and for all of the healthcare professionals who participated!

tweet chat on patient identification in healthcare

RightPatient® to Host September 11th #HITsm Chat on Patient Identification in Healthcare

tweet chat on patient identification in healthcare

Join us this Friday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. CST as we host the weekly #HITsm tweet chat and discuss the conundrum of establishing accurate patient identification in healthcare. The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) recently issued a $1 million “national patient ID challenge” in an effort to find a universal solution for accurately matching patients with their health information. 

tweet chat on patient identification in healthcare

Join us on Friday, September the 11th for the #HITsm tweet chat where we will discuss CHIME’s national patient identifier challenge and the state of patient identification in healthcare.

Patient identification in healthcare has bubbled to the top of the health IT priority list since accurately identifying patients is perhaps the most fundamental element of ensuring data accuracy throughout the care continuum but a confluence of barriers has inhibited advancing initiatives intended to improve it and help increase patient safety. 

During the chat we will discuss CHIME’s initiative and debate on whether it truly has the ability to improve patient identification in healthcare plus we will talk in-depth about how inaccurate patient ID effects healthcare interoperability, the evolving patient role to ensure the accuracy of their PHI, new patient touchpoints that complicate the goal of implementing technology that improves identification accuracy, and which new patient identification technologies show promise to help advance accurate patient identification in healthcare.

Please join the discussion beginning Friday at 11 a.m. CST, 12 p.m. EDT by following the #HITsm hashtag.

Additional information about the topic and discussion can be found here.

What additional topics would you like to see added to the conversation on establishing accurate patient identification in healthcare?


Novant Health Uses Iris Biometrics to Identify Unknown Patient


It’s a familiar case. An unconscious or unknown patient arrives in the ER without any identification leaving clinicians to administer care in the absence of any medical history to review. This presents a serious patient safety risk since treating an unknown patient without the benefit of securing their identity is dangerous and can be a huge liability. What if they are allergic to a certain medication? What if they have a pre-existing condition that must be considered prior to receiving any treatment?


Novant Health recently used the RightPatient iris biometrics patient identification system to identify an unknown, disoriented patient.

Since these cases are more often trauma related requiring immediate attention, clinicians must take a risk and administer care in the absence of any historical medical data. An obvious threat to patient safety and a situation that clearly raises liability, healthcare organizations have long sought to adopt technology that can instantly identify patients in these cases without the need for any demographic information. 

The staff at Novant Health decided to proactively implement an iris biometric identification system throughout their network as a means to secure accurate patient ID and ensure that patients, no matter what the circumstances, are kept safe throughout the care continuum. Although adopting a biometric patient identification system to identify unconscious or unknown patients wasn’t the sole reason that Novant implemented this technology, they knew that by choosing to use iris recognition as their primary biometric modality they would be able to quickly and accurately identify any patient in these circumstances without having to ask for an additional identification credentials (e.g. – D.O.B.). 


Novant’s iris biometric patient identification system was recently put to the test when a disoriented, unknown patient arrived in the ER without any identification credentials. Novant staff quickly realized that they could take the patient’s photo with a RightPatient iris camera and if they had been previously registered in their Epic EHR database, the biometric patient identification system would recognize them and immediately pull up their medical record. Fortunately, the patient had previously been enrolled with the RightPatient system and their identity was instantly recognized after their photo was taken with the iris camera. A big relief to Novant staff since they were now able to not only access her medical history prior to treatment, but they were also able to quickly contact the patient’s relatives to inform them of the situation.

Thank you to our partners at Novant Health for sharing this story and demonstrating the value of using biometrics for patient identification in the context of keeping patients as safe as possible throughout the care continuum!

How often do you experience situations where patients arrive at your facility without identification credentials? Did you know that not all biometric patient identification solutions have the ability to identify unknown or unconscious patients?