The use of biometrics in the healthcare industry has immense potential for improving patient matching. Improving patient matching can particularly reduce the number of duplicate records and the costs associated with it. Over the past decade, the use of biometric technology as a form of identification through the individual’s unique characteristics such as fingerprint or iris pattern has become very widespread across diverse industries.
The Pew Charitable Trusts has recognized the potential but still is concerned about how new approaches can bring about more technical and privacy issues. Thus The Pew Charitable Trust will be working with RTI International, a non-profit research institution, to develop a guideline on the extensive use of biometric technology for patient matching in healthcare by addressing the technical and privacy issues.
Drawbacks and concern over the implementation of biometric technology
There still remains a concern over the technical aspect of the use of biometrics by different healthcare providers. For example how different providers will compare and share data accurately across the health system if different identification platforms are used? However, in order to function properly improving the interoperability between different electronic health record systems is critical.
Another major issue is the duplication of medical records. Currently, the healthcare system is using demographics such as the patient’s name, date of birth, address to match patients’ records and medical history from one healthcare provider to the next.
However, if a patient changes his/her last name or address due to marriage, for instance, taking the spouse’s last name, then the probability of matching error increases. Hence the entry of duplicate records. Duplicate records lead to duplicate medical testing and as a result, patients face delay in receiving care or even receive improper treatment.
Pew and RTI International have collaborated and will work together to address three main issues:
- How can a patient’s biometric data be protected and used per the patient’s specific guidelines by the providers?
- How can the information be successfully transferred across different providers if they use two different facial scanners?
- What type of technical support will need to be implemented into the framework of each provider, and how will smartphones or tablets be used?
Analysis and interpretation of facts
Ben Moscvitch, Project director of health information technology at Pew and Robert Furberg, research health informaticist at RTI, stated in a focus group conducted by Pew, overwhelming patients are in favor of the use of biometrics to enhance patient matching rates. They believe biometrics can provide an additional layer to help improve patient matching. Facial scanning does not have to rely on the patient being responsive during an emergency.
Patient matching errors occur due to failure in linking patients with their correct medical records, that are caused by inaccurate patient identification. The use of biometric technology is a unique modality that can significantly reduce patient matching error by accurate identification. Biometric characteristics such as fingerprints or iris when synced with demographic data can become a competitive advantage in the identification process because unlike ID card numbers patients do not have to worry about forgetting them.
RIghtPatient- Biometric Identification Platform
RightPatient is a unique biometric patient identification platform that can accurately identify a patient by using their biometric characteristics such as face photo, fingerprints or iris pattern. RightPatient also supplements the use of smart devices by sending a notification to the patient’s device for verification
For the past several years, RightPatient has helped several healthcare providers prevent patient matching errors and duplication of medical records through accurate patient identification.
How It Works
The patient simply needs to provide their facial/iris/fingerprint data to the hospital and then their medical records are kept locked and secured with encryption. Next time when the patient arrives at the care continuum, the patient simply needs to look at the camera or swipe their finger to verify their identity and unlock medical records that are in sync with their information.
Is RightPatient the answer?
To achieve interoperability, clean and uncorrupted data is needed. If a patient goes to two different providers, all they need to do is just be enrolled in both the systems. If a photo-based identification platform like RightPatient is used across the healthcare system, then the patient can move between one healthcare to another without worrying about ending up with mismatched data and duplicate records.