The digitization of healthcare is upon us. More hospitals and healthcare providers are implementing computerized patient records, physician order entry systems (CPOE), treatment histories, and even billing information. An Electronic Health Record (EHR) system has major benefits such as:
- Increasing patient safety by reduction of medical errors
- Improving organizational outcomes by preventing billing errors
- Improving the ability to conduct research and mine data
- Increasing job satisfaction among physicians
Although the implementation and use of EHR systems helps to improve care delivery and has proven to reduce the risks inherent with paper based medical records, many problems and risks remain with data accuracy and security of these electronic systems.
Challenges of Using an EHR in Healthcare
As hospitals and healthcare systems are migrating to large scale EHR databases, there is a rising concern about quantifying successful outcomes and protecting patients from data breaches, mis-identification, duplicate medical records, and other issues in the effective use of these systems. Moreover, lack of inter-operability among healthcare providers to meaningfully exchange data between disparate EHR systems to help advance overall individual and population health is creating major challenges. Data exchange and collaboration in medical research as well as the ability to accurately identify a patient within the same network of different providers to prevent duplicate records and repeat tests and procedures are also challenging for EHR adoption.
Importance of Accurate Patient Identification in Healthcare
The United States based Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported in 1999, “At least 44,000 people, and perhaps as many as 98,000 people, die in hospitals each year as a result of medical errors that could have been prevented, according to estimates from two major studies.” Since then, most healthcare providers have proactively started to use technologies that increase patient identification accuracy, which leads to the ability to prevent medical errors.
Biometric Identification in Healthcare
Biometric identification technology has been used for a long period of time in various markets for accurate individual identification such as law enforcement, the military, workforce management, membership management, retail point of sale, and banking. .. It uses physiological characteristics such as a fingerprint, finger vein, palm vein or iris scan to identify individuals. In a healthcare setting, it is necessary to identify patients accurately with modern technology to ensure the right care is provided to the right patient. Biometrics are proven to be more accurate than alternative patient identification methods such as ID cards because each patient has a unique biometric pattern exclusive to their own identity that no one else can steal, share, or swap.. It will give the patient a unique identification and helps to avoid the problems that ID cards pose – being lost, shared, or stolen.. –
Biometric identification offers flexibility and creates efficiencies for identifying patients at their initial entry into a medical facility and at all points along the continuum of care. The question for healthcare providers becomes: Which biometric modality is the most appropriate for patient identification?
Fingerprints are the most widely used and recognized biometric modality on the market but require physical contact with a hardware device creating hygiene issues in a clinical setting plus they often carry a stigma of being associated with criminal activity. There are contactless biometric modalities available such as palm vein biometrics but unfortunately they rely on segmented matching which does not completely protect patients against duplicate medical records and medical identity theft and fraud at the point of service. In addition, palm vein biometrics do not work with children under the age of 5 and due to the fact that palm veins grow with a person’s skeleton and do not reach a stable “adult” pattern until that growth stops, some patients using palm vein have to be re-enrolled over time.
Biometric identification modalities such as iris recognition offer distinct advantages over fingerprint and palm vein due to the contactless nature of the hardware, it’s ability to search an entire database on each patient scan and the fact that iris biometrics have been tested and certified, which is key to measuring the quality and integrity of the modality and offers the ability to cleanly and confidently exchange patient data through health information exchanges.
Healthcare Benefits From Biometric Identification
As more medical facilities adopt biometric patient identification technology, the technology’s reputations the best identification method that hospitals and healthcare organization can easily adopt with their existing EHR/EMR systems is quickly growing. Using biometrics in a healthcare environment ensures quick and accurate patient identification helping to raise patient safety levels and subsequently increasing faith in the hospital system. Here are some benefits of using biometrics for patient identification in healthcare:
- Eliminates Healthcare Identity Fraud and Medical Identity Theft at the Point of Service
- Streamlines the Patient Registration Process
- Prevents Duplicative Medical Records
- Saves cost by preventing duplicate medical tests
- Enhance Patient Privacy Lowers Hospital Risk
Examples of Iris Biometrics for Patient Identification in Healthcare
Novant Health Inc. – a Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia based healthcare company serves millions patients annually- invested $1.1 million and deployed an iris biometrics patient identification solution in their system to accurately identify patients.-
Stuart, FL based Martin Health System gets 500,000 patient visits across its two hospitals annually and required a scalable identification technology to prevent re-admissions, patient identity fraud, duplicate medical records, and billing errors. Martin Health System introduced iris biometrics patient identification technology to fulfill these requirements in 2013.
The University Of California San Diego Health System (UCSD) in San Diego, California, United States started using iris biometrics for cancer patient identification replacing the old fingerprint and palm print based system. Iris biometrics has proven to be more accurate than the previous identification system, but UCSD was also focusing on hygiene issues. This new solution provides contactless experience to its patients not to touch something physically that could bring contagious diseases.
Biometric patient identification systems can easily interface with any existing EHR/EMR systems and perform real-time identification to prevent duplicate medical records, protect patients against fraud and identity theft, and streamline the registration process.
Using biometrics for patient identification in EHR/EMR or other systems will continue to increase efficiencies and patient safety for hospitals and healthcare providers. It also fosters quality interoperability standards through healthcare information exchanges by ensuring the highest level of data integrity. Improving data integrity will help hospitals to save billions of dollars yearly, mitigate medical errors, and improve both individual and population health.
Arifin Hussain is the SEO Specialist with M2SYS Technology, an award-winning industry leader in biometric identity management technology. He is currently focusing and analyzing the middle east region to identify scope to develop the day to day life and ways the government and enterprise can contribute using latest technology.