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

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.


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

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,

This stability eliminates the need to re-enroll patients as is the case with other biometric patient identification 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. 



accurate biometric patient identification helps improve patient data integrity.

Uniting Accurate Patient Identification with Secure Single Sign-On (SSO) to Improve Data Integrity in Healthcare

accurate biometric patient identification helps improve patient data integrity.
Uniting Accurate Patient Identification with Secure Single Sign-On (SSO) to Improve Data Integrity in Healthcare

Today we announced a new strategic alliance with Healthcast, Inc. to bring biometric patient ID and single sign-on (SSO) technology to healthcare.

One of the biggest obstacles facing the healthcare industry is ensuring high levels of patient data integrity. As computerization of health information continues and the scope of health information organizational exchange expands into health information exchanges (HIEs), and integrated delivery networks (IDNs), maintaining the integrity and completeness of health data is paramount yet much more complicated and challenging. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) recently stated that:

“The overarching goal of HIEs is to allow authorized users to quickly and accurately exchange health information to enhance patient safety and improve efficiency. Achieving this goal is dependent on the ability to link (match) multiple, disparate records relating to a single individual.” (Insuring Data Integrity in Health Data Exchange, AHIMA Resources, 2012)

Achieving high levels of patient data integrity in healthcare is largely contingent upon establishing accurate patient identification — a complex process due to the absence of any standardized patient identification credentials and a lack of consistency on how patient identification information is collected. Implementing a secure patient identification system should be the precursor to any patient data integrity improvement strategy, one that has the ubiquity for use at ANY patient touchpoint (e.g. portals, mHealth, and kiosks) and has the power to prevent duplicate medical records and fraud which can quickly poison an electronic health record database and create a host of “dirty data.”

Coupled with the importance of deploying a modern patient identification system is the urgency to establish stricter single sign-on (SSO) security protocols for access to personal health information (PHI) from clinicians or any staff authorized to view this data. Healthcare data breaches continue to pose a tremendous strain on the industry, recently highlighted in The Ponemon Institute’s 2015 2nd Annual Data Breach forecast which states:

Healthcare organizations face the challenge of securing a significant amount of sensitive information stored on their network, which combined with the value of a medical identity string makes them an attractive target for cybercriminals.” (2015 Second Annual Data Breach Industry Forecast, The Ponemon Institute, 2015)

A logical first step for any healthcare provider is to implement stronger SSO technology to simplify and secure access to PHI that helps deter fraud, prevent duplicate medical records, and increase operational efficiencies.

In an effort to help introduce and increase adoption of arguably the two most important components that will improve patient data integrity for any healthcare organization, today we announced a new strategic alliance with Healthcast — joining forces to offer our best-of-breed biometric patient identification solution with their #1 ranked single sign-on solution (KLAS, 2014) to increase patient safety and secure access to patient data.

Read more about the news here

Removing the Word "Scan" from Iris Recognition for Healthcare Biometrics

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

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.”


Most people confuse iris recognition with retinal scanning that beams visible light into the eye to capture individual biometric credentials.

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. 

When most people hear the words “iris recognition” they immediately confuse the technology with “retinal scanning,” a completely separate and totally different biometric modality. As our community already knows, iris recognition and retinal scanning are two completely different biometric modalities each operating under separate functional parameters and each using a different method of capturing individual biometric characteristics. Most people associate iris recognition with something that looks like this:

The picture above shows a retinal scanner beaming visible light into the human eye to read the unique physiological characteristics of the retina, located in the back of the eye. Despite it’s extremely high identification accuracy, retinal scanning is widely considered to be one of if not the most invasive biometric modality and an impractical technology for commercial use in high throughput environments. Conversely, iris recognition uses a sophisticated digital camera to capture your photograph, which maps unique data points of your iris (located in the front of the eye) and uses that information to create a unique identity template which is used on subsequent identification attempts and is also an extremely accurate . 

Iris recognition does not beam any visible light into your eyes, is 100% safe to use, and does not perform anything even close to a “scan” – it is simply a digital photograph (albeit much more sophisticated that pictures we take with our digital cameras and cell phones). Here, we see a patient at a hospital using an iris camera for identification – notice how there aren’t any lights or lasers beamed into their eyes during the photograph capture process:

Iris recognition cameras do not beam any lights or lasers into the human eye. They simply take a digital photograph.

Why is it important to know that iris recognition does not “scan” your eyes? Like it or not, the proliferance of biometric technology for individual identification is a reality that we all must come to terms with. In fact, if you have never participated in a biometric identification deployment, chances are at some point you will considering the rapid pace in which many industries are adopting the technology as a tool to increase security, create efficiencies, eliminate waste and fraud, and raise accountability and productivity. In healthcare, many hospitals and medical facilities have already deployed iris recognition biometrics for patient identification, and are expanding their deployments to provide the technology for accurate patient ID at each and every touchpoint along the care continuum.

In the healthcare industry specifically, understanding what to expect when you participate in a biometric identification deployment is a key factor in accepting the technology as a key tool to help stop medical identity and fraud at the point of service and to eliminate duplicate medical records which are a direct threat to your safety. So the next time you visit the hospital or a medical facility that has deployed iris biometrics for patient identification, you are now empowered with the information on how the front end technology works and can rest assured that you are not being “scanned” in any way, shape, or form. It’s a photograph, not a scan!

What other common misunderstandings about biometrics may cause you trepidation? 


How Accurate Patient Identification Impacts Health Information Management (HIM)


We have spent a lot of time during the past few years discussing how establishing accurate patient identification in healthcare with biometrics is the most effective technology to prevent:

— Duplicate medical records 
— Healthcare fraud
Medical identity theft

and improve:

— Patient safety
— Revenue cycle management


The use of biometrics for patient identification in healthcare helps HIM departments spend time on more value added services.

What often goes unnoticed is the impact that biometric patient identification solutions have on Health Information Management (HIM) departments. HIM departments carry tremendous responsibility on their shoulders in any healthcare organization acting as the entity in charge of providing and processing medical records containing patient information from pre-admission through discharge and afterward until the record is complete. This process includes:

— Preparing, indexing, and imaging all paper medical records
— Analyzing the health record for accuracy and to ensure it is completed
— Releasing patient information and protections assigned for closed-adoption, drug treatment, alcohol treatment, sexual, and behavioral health issues
— Coding for research, reimbursement, and provider report cards – coding personnel are responsible for abstracting diagnoses and procedures from   medical records and assigning them a numerical code to ensure accurate billing and for data collection
— Analyzing active medical records to ensure all diagnoses are accurately documented
— Upon a client’s discharge from the hospital, process documents to provide relevant client demographic and medical information to the designated aftercare agencies to facilitate follow-up and continuity of the client’s care

Often considered the “medical record gatekeepers” of the healthcare industry, HIM departments perform one of the most critical functions in the healthcare work flow by ensuring the safety of patients through medical record accuracy. HIM also helps to facilitate fast and efficient payments under strict time constraints for services rendered, and spend a lot of time correcting patient records because healthcare facilities want to be paid on the care provided to patients in a timely fashion.

A large part of medical record reconciliation is resolving duplicate medical records and overlays (when two patients medical histories appear on one medical record) which consumes Full Time Equivalents (FTE’s), and swallows up resources that could otherwise be spent on more value-added tasks that directly impact revenue cycle management and limits penalties.

Litigation is also an important point to stress. A patient’s chart must be able to withstand the scrutiny of a legal proceeding if a patient were to sue a healthcare facility lending even more importance to the work of HIM to ensure medical record accuracy. There is also the issue of reporting. The HIM department is directly responsible that medical records are accurate for quality reporting which has a direct impact on reimbursement and avoiding penalties imposed by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) that range from readmissions to demonstrated improvement in patient outcomes. Keep in mind the new healthcare paradigm – stressing the quality vs. the quantity of services provided, a huge shift change that carries additional responsibility and an increased sense of urgency to ensure data accuracy at any healthcare facility.

Which brings us to the use of biometrics for accurate patient identification on the front end.

Healthcare facilities that have invested in deploying biometrics for accurate patient identification to prevent duplicate medical records and overlays on the front end are seeing the trickle down benefits to HIM departments, specifically the fact that they are spending less time reconciling duplicates and overlays and more time on coding, revenue cycle management, and reporting. It should be noted however, that biometric patient identification solutions built with search capabilities based on “one-to-many” matching types are the only solutions available that can truly prevent duplicate medical records, fraud, and medical identity at the point of registration. Do your homework before selecting a vendor, not all offer this type of back end matching capability. 

Why is it important to reduce HIM FTEs spent on reconciliation of duplicate medical records and overlays? As noted earlier, many hospitals have expanded responsibilities vis-à-vis Meaningful Use, EHR implementation, and meeting Affordable Care Act requirements, and it has become disadvantageous to continue devoting any time at all to duplicate medical record and overlay reconciliation. Biometric patient identification solutions open the door to re-allocation of HIM FTEs to more critical functions such as coding, reimbursement, and reporting. Simply put, implementing biometrics during patient registration is opening the door for HIM departments across the industry to provide a larger and more productive support role to meet the shifting sands of reimbursement and address the need to move towards quality vs. quantity of care.

Hospitals should be actively seeking to deploy patient matching and patient identification technologies that eliminate barriers (e.g. duplicate medical records, overlays) and maximize HIM productivity to shift FTEs away from continuous master patient index (MPI) cleanup and more towards coding, quality review, reimbursement, and other areas. Many hospitals are already re-aligning their HIM departments in the wake of EHR implementation, and we expect to see more of the same for those using biometrics for accurate patient identification. 

What other ways can the use of biometrics for patient identification reduce HIM FTEs?