If you work in the healthcare industry, it should come as no surprise that we are in the throes of a massive sea change in care delivery models. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 set the wheels in motion for titanic changes in the expansion and adoption of health information technology and since then, a large majority of healthcare providers around the country have successfully implemented or updated their electronic health record systems.
As the proliferation of electronic health record systems, health information exchanges (HIEs), and integrated delivery networks (IDNs) continues, it’s surprising that little to no progress has been made on the sticky subject of establishing a national patient identifier (NPI) to promote interoperability and reduce errors related to mismatches between health data and patients. There are however, substantial concerns about establishing this type of identifier, most notably the privacy fears that it would be too easy to steal personal health information if there were universal ID numbers.
Unfortunately, as progress on legislation establishing a more concrete way to identify patients languishes in Congress, between 8 and 14% of medical records include erroneous information tied to an incorrect patient identity, costing hundreds of millions of dollars per year to correct and resulting in serious risk to patient safety. In addition, with the numerous benefits of EHRs and HIE also come potential opportunities for patient-data mismatches. After all, patient mismatches, which already occur at a significant rate within individual institutions and systems, will significantly increase when entities communicate among each other via HIE —a Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirement — that may be using different systems, different matching algorithms, and different data dictionaries. Collaborative care is certainly making the problem of accurate patient identification worse.
This shifts the burden of implementing patient identification technology to individual healthcare systems which could hamper the exchange of healthcare data with other institutions posing serious challenges for healthcare infrastructure. HIEs are facing issues when trying to piece together patient IDs from multiple providers forcing them to rely on algorithms that match and merge patient data from multiple medical records. The problem is, these algorithms and the matching process is cumbersome and exposed to errors with even the most sophisticated of algorithm matches prone to mistakes resulting from typos or common surnames.
In the absence of a NPI, more and more hospitals and healthcare providers are turning to alternative patient identification technologies to help eliminate duplicate medical records, overlays, and other mis-matching errors that jeopardize patient safety. One of the technologies rapidly adopted by the healthcare industry is the use of biometrics for patient identification.
Through our RightPatient™ iris biometric patient identification system, we are successfully helping hospitals and healthcare facilities increase patient safety by instantly retrieving a patient’s medical record following a fast biometric scan. This helps the industry establish a concrete identity for each patient and link that identity to an individual electronic health record enabling healthcare organizations to prevent duplicate medical records and eliminate fraud while improving patient safety systems.
We add value to the equation by suggesting that healthcare facilities consider adopting iris biometrics as their hardware modality for patient ID not only because it is non-invasive and requires no contact with a device by a patient (supporting hospital infection control), but also because iris biometric data is compliant with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standardization and has been extensively tested and certified as generic, shared data across disparate networks. This bodes well for healthcare facilities looking to establish “patient identity integrity” upon admission and during a patient’s stay as the cornerstone of efforts to maintain reliable and authentic data throughout the networks they establish or join. Biometrics can play a key role in helping to ensure the transfer of clean patient data by preventing the creation of duplicate medical records. As more regions, communities and hospital systems participate in health information exchange, biometric data can also be shared for the benefit of patients and providers.
We expanded the efficiency and effectiveness of our iris biometric patient identification software by capturing a patient’s photo and linking that to their electronic medical record as a means of multi-factor authentication for hospital staff. Plus, we offer a mobile solution that allows caregivers to authenticate a patient’s identity bedside, during home health, in the ER or any any point along the care continuum to ensure the right care is delivered to the right patient.
We also offer a back end data analytics module within the RightPatient™ system to help monitor system performance and user activity. Through a user-friendly, web-based interface, healthcare administrators have access to the real-time data that they need to analyze system usage, track pattern flow, troubleshoot, establish a concrete patient activity audit trail, and potentially reallocate resources based on results.
We are passionate about our role in the healthcare industry as stewards of effective patient identification technology to help increase patient safety, eliminate fraud and medical identity theft at the point of service, and reduce errors and proud to be a part of the health IT movement.