Biometrics For Patient Identification: Obstacles And Opportunities (Health IT Outcomes)

Daniel Cidon, Chief Technology Officer of NextGate, has a really well-sourced piece up at Health IT Outcomes. Using data from recent studies by ECRI, Gartner, and Pew, his perspective on healthcare ID management and biometrics is well worth a read.

A sample…

“Research at the ECRI Institute paints a grim picture of how deeply troubling and harmful patient identification errors can be. In examining 7,613 cases of wrong-patient errors at 181 organizations, incidents included an individual in cardiac arrest that was not resuscitated because the care team mistakenly obeyed the wrong patient’s do-not-resuscitate order and an infant given milk from the wrong mother who was infected with hepatitis.

ECRI found 13 percent of identification errors occurred at registration, when, for example, duplicate records were created, or two patients’ records were “overlaid,” a term that describes when information from one patient is used to replace another’s.

These issues are driving health IT executives to pursue use of biometrics technology at registration to add another layer of protection of patient identity integrity.”

Patient ID in the United States

Identifying Solutions to Patient ID (HealthLeaders)

Patient identification is a fundamental building block of the emerging accountable care organization trend, according to Bill Spooner, CIO of Sharp HealthCare, which operates four acute care and three specialty care hospitals with an approximate total of 2,000 licensed beds in the San Diego region.

“The important thing is to be able to get accurately identified patients into your database and to be able to link them out to your transaction systems so everybody knows who they are so you can effectively engage in care management,” Spooner says.

The United States in particular faces a hurdle that other developed countries do not: By law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is prohibited from establishing a national patient identifier.

Providers are coping in several ways. Technology exists to flag suspected duplicate identities with varying degrees of certainty. Some are turning to technology offered by suppliers of their electronic health records.

Other providers are relying upon technology that has been employed by payers for years. And for those systems that can make the technological jump, patients are now being positively identified during every visit using smart cards with photo IDs attached, or even by biometric means, such as fingerprint, palm, or retinal scans. [ed. The revolution will not be retinal scans; bold emphasis mine]

Bottom line:
“If you can’t uniquely identify your patients within whatever data you’re analyzing, you’re going to misread and therefore make executive decisions that are not spot-on,[a]nd you make some big strategic mistakes because of that.”

The lengthy piece is very much worth a longer look.

Hospital Patient ID

St. Peter’s Hospital moves to biometric patient ID (Independent Record – Helena, MT)

St. Peter’s Hospital has begun using a biometric identification system it says will eliminate the need for patients to show identification with each visit while improving the certainty that medical providers will access the medical records of the correct patient.

UPDATE:
See (listen) also this interview: Biometric Patient ID Technology with M2SYS President, Michael Trader (HIT Consultant)

Lots of good discussion of the ROI available to health care providers through biometric patient ID.

Biometrics for Patient ID Program Aims to Curb Prescription Drug Abuse

Gallia first to enroll in Rx pilot program (Daily Tribune – Gallipolis, OH)

The program, being launched through a public-private partnership between regional health care provider Holzer Health System and CrossChx, a company based in Gallipolis, is known as the Biometric Enrollment and Verification Prescription System and will allow doctors to compare health records from multiple sources to help determine the eligibility of a patient to receive a prescription for medication.

CrossChx (pronounced “cross checks”) will provide the technology to track health information and will, specifically, use biometrics, or the identification of an individual through his or her inherit traits — in this case, fingerprints — to allow prescribers to receive real-time patient information.

The article goes on to note that, locally, 30% of the infants in the neo-natal intensive care unit are addicted to opiates.

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