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Verifying Patient Identity – Top 3 Benefits

The failure to accurately identify patients throughout the healthcare industry continues to result in medication and diagnosis errors, procedures on the wrong person, duplicate medical records, and health insurance fraud. Therefore, healthcare providers should properly collect and manage information for verifying patient identity to prevent medical identity theft, improve medical record accuracy, and comply with HIPAA.

rightpatient-ensures-accurate-medical-record-by-verifying-patient-identity

The amount of information flow in healthcare is greater than any other industry, but it all means nothing if a patient’s identity is compromised, or cannot be matched with their records. Verifying patient identity before starting a medical treatment or service is vital for ensuring a positive patient experience. The inability of healthcare providers to accurately identify their patients during the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in slow procedures, incorrect treatments, and even encouraged insurance fraudsters to take advantage of this chaotic situation. 

That being said, RightPatient has been helping healthcare providers keep accurate records connected with the correct identity for years now, ensuring effective health treatment and recovery. The coronavirus pandemic has also been a prime catalyst for the consideration of futureproof biometric identity management solutions, such as RightPatient, for verifying patient identity. The reason for this is that our solution helps providers maintain a hygienic environment and limit the spread of contagious diseases. Here’s what else RightPatient can do for your organization:

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Verifying patient identity to prevent medical identity theft

Even during this pandemic, security experts warn that the threat of medical identity theft is far from over, because attackers know they can take advantage of this situation. Healthcare providers, as well as patients, suffer from medical identity theft: the illegal access of a patient’s personally identifiable information and using this information to fraudulently obtain medical treatment, goods, or services. 

The cost of proper medical treatment is exorbitant, especially if not covered by health insurance. It results in claim denials and negatively affects a health system’s bottom line. That is why verifying an individual identity is crucial before providing any kind of service. Health care providers, such as Terrebonne General Medical Center (TGMC) and the University Health Care System have successfully prevented many potential medical identity theft occurrences since using RightPatient. 

Reduces information discrepancies in medical records

Arguably, the most damaging concern for healthcare providers is incorrect and potentially life-altering information being put on someone’s medical record. Inaccurate records have been the root cause of incorrect treatments, delays in procedures, and even the creation of duplicate records and overlays. Medical records are very difficult to change as they are meant to be a permanent and comprehensive account of an individual’s healthcare history. Thus, verifying a patient’s identity and accurately matching their information with their medical records can help providers to avoid financial losses due to fraudulent claims and improve data integrity.

Verifying patient identity for compliance

In the U.S., various state, federal, and industry-specific compliance regulations such as HIPAA and HITECH have been established for verifying patient identity. Not complying with these Acts can lead to hefty financial penalties being issued, and in worst-case scenarios, criminal charges being filed. 

HIPAA, which stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is a federal law that provides security provisions and data privacy, to protect a patient’s medical information. It enables smooth transitions of electronic records and requires appropriate controls over the use and disclosure of medical records.

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Any organization that deals with protected health information (PHI) is required to comply with HIPAA’s rules and regulations. The law consists of several standard verification requirements for the disclosure of PHI. Under this subpart:

(i) Except with respect to disclosures under §164.510, verify the identity of a person requesting protected health information and the authority of any such person to have access to protected health information under this subpart, if the identity of any such authority of such person is not known to the covered entity;

Numerous stipulations suggest that it is lawful for organizations to take reasonable steps, such as using HIPAA compliance software and using platforms like RightPatient for verifying patient identity, to ensure compliance. HIPAA compliance also ensures that there are appropriate safeguards in place to protect PHI from unauthorized disclosure or breaches. 

RightPatient – touchless biometric patient identity management platform

RightPatient is the healthcare industry leader in biometric patient identification. RightPatient also offers remote identity validation and appointment scheduling solutions for telehealth practitioners to ensure positive clinical outcomes during this pandemic. The platform verifies patient identities by comparing their selfie photos and ID (e.g. driver’s license). It helps healthcare providers save money on more costly identity-proofing solutions through credit agencies.

Even without this pandemic, exercising due diligence is vital. With the threat of medical identity theft looming even greater than before, healthcare providers need to have the most risk-conscious and thorough procedures in place to mitigate fraud. With RightPatient, healthcare providers can confidently stand under the near-perpetual spotlight of public scrutiny.

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

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

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

Infection control concerns about fingerprint and vein scanners

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

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

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

Facial and iris recognition modalities for patient identification

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

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

Enhance patient safety with RightPatient

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

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

patient safety in healthcare

4 Ways Medical Personnel Can Implement Policy into Patient Safety Protocol

The following guest post on improving patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Rachelle Wilber.

The safety of patients in a medical facility is just as important as treating their condition. People must feel protected when visiting a hospital or clinic. Otherwise, they will be reluctant to seek medical care in times of need. Medical personnel have a unique perspective in terms of patient care, which can be helpful for improving safety measures. Here are four ways that doctors, nurses, and other staff can encourage necessary changes to patient safety protocols.

4 Ways Medical Personnel Can Implement Policy into Patient Safety Protocol

Ensuring patient safety has become a focal point for healthcare organizations.

Record Risks & Vulnerabilities

Administrators prefer to work with facts and figures. They rely on this type of data to reveal problems and highlight successes. Those with concerns about patient safety should thoroughly document this issue, including any ideas for a solution. This information will have a much greater impact than a passionate speech.

Share Patient Concerns

Customer service is a core principle of the medical field. An important part of making someone feel safe is listening to them. Doctors and nurses can speak for their patients, and allow their fears to be heard. For example, many parents are concerned about childhood healthcare in this country. Medical facilities can share information about the importance of a balanced diet, or how to address mental and emotional issues.

Continuing Education

It may be difficult to influence certain policies and procedures when you are unfamiliar with how things work. Dealing with matters that affect the public can be extremely complicated. Medical personnel who are serious about having an impact should consider continuing their education. Earning a master’s in public administration can prepare you for the challenges of creating a safe and comfortable environment for the patients.

Consult the Legal Department

Sometimes, administrators are hesitant to make changes because they are worried about legal ramifications. They may fear that the end result leads to more problems than solutions. While gathering the details on a particular problem and how to address it, it would be helpful to consult the facility’s legal department. They can explain any laws involved and how to adhere to them. This will smooth things over with administration, so your ideas can be seriously considered.

Security and risk management are generally put in the hands of a facility’s administration. Along with other things, their job is to implement and maintain procedures for threats and emergency situations. However, patient protection is a unified effort. Healthcare providers spend more time with patients than anyone else in a facility. Their insight is a necessary component of any safety protocol.

Author bio:

Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

how to increase patient safety in healthcare

The Last 10 Years: How Technology Has Increased Patient Safety

The following guest post on how health IT technology has increased patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Hannah Whittenly.

With healthcare demand growing in an aging population, medicine has become a competitive field. It’s increasingly difficult for administrators and staff to manage facilities and costs while still maintaining quality and safety in patient care. Thankfully, new technologies over the past decade are helping to keep patients protected. Here are just a few of them:

how to increase patient safety in healthcare

Advances in health IT have increased patient safety in healthcare.

Image Archives
Picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) are cross-platform, online repositories for medical imaging records like x-rays and MRIs. PACS enables file sharing so that medical consultants and specialists from anywhere in the world can review diagnostic imaging in moments. Even within the same facility, all physicians and nurses are looking at one common, complete set of medical images.

Patients can accumulate quite a lot of these images over a lifetime of medical care. New PACS systems can automatically archive older images that are no longer relevant and organize new ones. Shared, updated information leads to faster diagnoses and more effective treatments.

Bar Codes and RFID

Bar codes and RFID chips are a way to instantly provide information. While they’ve been around for a while, mobile apps and better optical and radio frequency scanners are making them incredibly convenient. Bar codes or chips can be affixed to equipment, bottles of medication, patient beds, entry and exit points, and even patient and employee badges.
Strategically placed scanners can record and track movements so that nothing is misplaced and workflows can be analyzed for better efficiency. Monitoring also helps to provide better physical security for staff and patients. In emergencies, wandering patients or needed staff members or equipment can be almost instantly located.

Health Information Technology

Modern HIT systems are becoming praised as the solution to streamlining hospital practices. Efficient digital record keeping and reporting is helping to eliminate medical errors that were once a source of concern for patients, administrators, and insurers. Mistakes sometimes led to a patient being forced to undergo needless surgeries or treatment, or given the wrong medication.
Unique patient IDs associated with electronic records have helped to overcome this problem. Sinus and allergy tests and treatments, like those that Premier Surgical Associates does, improve the quality of life for patients of all ages, and now become permanent records for future reference. Every detail in any treatment is electronically documented to keep records updated and provide opportunities for analysis and improvement.

Biometric Patient Identifiers

There are a few areas of the human body that are unique to individuals: fingerprints and iris patterns for example. Because those areas are completely unique, they can actually be used to identify a person. This is important in the case of death, hospital emergencies, and in the case of a missing person situation. Although technology has been being used to track fingerprints for a while now, iris cameras are becoming more available and are being used as biometric patient identifiers.

Due to the fact that such devices require that a patient willingly interacts with the technology, acceptance is a key part of any biometric patient identification deployment. It is critical that healthcare organizations that deploy biometrics for patient identification offer a clear and transparent explanation to patients that the technology is in place to protect their identities and help prevent medical errors.

Though technology continues to evolve, once proven and put in place it provides advantages and consistent results. Today’s medical technology is developing into a reliable system for improving care and patient safety.

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

how to maintain patient safety in healthcare

Patient Safety in Healthcare

The following post on patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Dennis Kaminski.

Every healthcare organization carries along with it the important obligation to ensure patient safety and the safety of staff and visitors. Life itself presents possible danger at every turn, as most of us know well, and becoming involved in any sort of treatment program or enrollment in any healthcare institution, therefore, involves incurring certain inherent dangers as well.

Patient Safety in Healthcare

Maintaining patient safety in healthcare is important.

It has been widely bruited in the past that healthcare environments can be even more dangerous than life in the streets. This is because hospitals are, by their very nature, filled with sick patients. These patients may have diseases or injuries that could present a danger to others, particularly susceptible due to the nature of their own physical condition. Hospital-borne infections can and do cause deaths every year.

It is, therefore, vital that every organization allows plenty of time, and invests a good deal of efforts. This will assure that its particular operation takes into consideration every possible provision as a way of assuring the safety of its patients.

A major concern for an institution too, is the looming danger of lawsuits, lawsuits that, if serious enough, can force even a well-insured company into bankruptcy and closure. Of even graver importance, however, is the dark possibility of a person becoming gravely ill or injured during the company’s watch, a tragic event that has, in the past, led to death.

Health care groups and policies across our nation, fall mostly under the influence of social as well as economic conditions and, of course, the health guidelines and policies already in place regarding patient safety. Every nation, every jurisdiction, has its own set of policies regarding healthcare safety. These have been, over time, developed to meet the needs and goals of a target population.

Healthcare Safety and patient safety are something of blanket terms for a number of different populations and situations. This term includes care by health professionals, of course. Health care professionals alone carries a good many sub-categories that might be included: chiropractic, medical physicians, physician associates (nurses, attendants, technicians, and even janitorial workers). Dentistry, midwifery, optometry primary, secondary and tertiary care, medicine, midwifery and any other aid or treatment offered to a person who is suffering from one malady or another. All of these fall under the heading of patient care and/or healthcare safety.

The vast majority of patients being treated in healthcare facilities, receive proper and safe treatment. Yet as technology and the understanding of the human physique and mental capacities grows, the greater becomes the necessity to attune these complexities to the assurance of the safety of those who seek help. People make mistakes, errors in judgment and, being human, everyone in the healthcare industry walks about beneath the burden of knowing that at any step along the way, a mistake may be made. This can of course, be minor, but it can just as easily be a significant and far-reaching mistake that could, ultimately, be life-threatening.

Organizations, such as the National Patient Safety Agency has been set in place for one reason alone: To educate healthcare professionals in every possible way to incorporate every possible safety measure into the workplace, be the facility a small dental office or a large and active primary care facility that goes twenty-four hours a day.

One of the first and most important steps recommended is that the director of every operation create and organize a culture of safety around the center of activity.

The first and vital step the director should consider is to take the initiative, take the lead. The director should assemble the staff, explain exactly what measures must be followed and perhaps hand out papers. Directing staff is a first and important step in creating in the minds of employees and associates the importance and gravity of healthcare measures, as well as management’s determination to enforce proper health care measures in every aspect of the operation.

That would include not only sanitary procedures, but even frequently overlooked dangers, such as cables or débris lying on floors, obstacles that might easily trip up a hurrying attendant or patient. Wet floors or any slippery substance on floors present an extremely dangerous threat to a person who can take an unexpected life-threatening fall.

By combining attentive and concerned management with other factors, staff remains constantly aware of the safety measures that are necessary to maintaining a good clean operation without unexpected and unwelcome incidents.

Where there may be any possible doubt as to the effectiveness of a given facility, it is possible to bring in professional teams that analyze the facility, gather staff together and discuss aspects that may need improvement, share safety lessons so that management as well staff can implement better solutions to prevent future possible accidents or even tragedies.

It is also important not only to involve staff in these measures, but patients and the general public as well, should be kept informed as much as possible, of the progress, possibilities and threats that may lurk in even the most innocent-appearing environment.

Dennis Kaminski is the owner of SafetyMart. SafetyMart helps customers ranging from private businesses to government/municipal agencies, both large and small to address their safety needs and requirements.