Why Healthcare should Evaluate Biometrics for Patient Identification
The Future is Now
Once upon a time, using biometric technology for identification was strictly relegated to science fiction. Hollywood movies depicted scenarios where iris scans opened doors, or fingerprint-started cars, or someone’s voice or palm print provided access to clandestine information. Moviegoers marveled at how biometrics was portrayed, and wondered how soon this technology would jump off the screen to become an identification reality in their everyday lives.
Well, the future is now. All over the world, governments, corporations, military establishments and others are using biometric technology for identification across many different verticals for a multitude of objectives. There is biometric identification for workforce management to help stop time theft, build accountability, and reduce payroll inflation and error rates. Biometrics is used extensively in public safety to avoid duplicate booking entries, eliminate identity fraud, track inmate movements and increase security. The financial industry has adopted biometric technology to reduce password expenses and protect customer data. Retail point-of-sale establishments use biometric identification to reduce false returns, helping improve loss-prevention strategies.
Let’s take a closer look at why biometric patient identification has evolved so quickly and what makes it a technology the healthcare industry should evaluate.
Duplicate Medical Records, Medical Identity Theft and Patient Safety
It is well known that patient safety continues to be one of healthcare’s most pressing challenges. Although there are many angles from which patient safety can be addressed, the prevention of duplicate medical records and the elimination of medical identity theft stand out as two of the main culprits jeopardizing the integrity of the healthcare industry.
Costing the industry millions of dollars per year in administrative costs, legal expenses and liabilities, in addition to placing patient safety at risk, the root cause of these problems are generally inaccurate patient identification – a problem that can be rectified through the adoption of biometric technology.
Biometric Patient Identification to Prevent Duplicate Medical Records
Biometrics uses physiological characteristics of the human body for patient identification. Eliminating the need to provide an insurance card, social security number, or a date of birth for identification during registration, a biometric template can be directly linked to an electronic medical record for accurate credentialing on subsequent visits. This ensures that no duplicate medical records can be created, and the right care is delivered to the right patient.
Biometrics also eliminates difficulties in identifying patients with the same name or multiple surnames, helping to ensure that each time a patient visits a healthcare facility, their medical history is properly documented no matter what variation of their name is provided.
Eliminating Medical Identity Theft with Biometrics
According to a study recently released by The Ponemon Institute, approximately 1.5 million Americans are victims of medical identity theft - a number that continues to rise each year. In addition, healthcare fraud is estimated to cost between $70 billion and $255 billion per year, which accounts for between 3% and 10% of total U.S. healthcare costs.
Biometric patient identification helps to eliminate the sharing of medical insurance cards between patients, or assuming another person’s identity, by linking a unique biometric template with an electronic medical record.
Additional Benefits and the Future of Biometric Patient Identification
Additional uses of biometrics within healthcare include:
· Mobile biometric patient identification throughout a hospital to confirm the identity of patients at various touch points such as pre-op, medication dispensing and outpatient services
· Unconscious patient identification or those with the inability to speak or who may suffer from a language barrier
· Increased data integrity standards across health information exchanges (HIEs). Certain modalities of the technology abide by data standardization guidelines set forth by non-regulatory government agencies. Iris biometric patient identification templates, for example, are compliant with National Institute of Standards and Technology standardization and have 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.
As biometric patient identification systems continue to evolve, one can expect to see more multi-factor authentication solutions that combine multiple modalities for patient identification such as iris and facial recognition. This provides healthcare with additional tools to accurately identify patients in the event of injury or trauma.
It becomes more apparent every day that the time is now to evaluate the benefits of biometrics for healthcare.