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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Jul 31 2011   9:56PM GMT

Patient identification using palm scanning technology

Posted by: RedaChouffani
Biometrics, EHR, Hospital, Palm Scanner, patient IDs

Now more than ever, hospital and health care leaders have to work tirelessly to ensure they are adequately protecting their patients’ health information. Whether it’s through secure, encrypted access to all digitized and EHR data, or through the close, careful monitoring of all areas of an institution that contain sensitive information, patient data privacy is something that is of the utmost concern to health care leaders today.

In the same light, another area that continues to present challenges for health care organizations is how to efficiently and effectively verify a patient’s identification. In some hospitals, state issued identification cards or other forms of ID suffice to identify a patient. But unfortunately, these identification methods can still leave the door wide open for fraud due to falsified information. Fakes IDs have been used in the past and continue to be a vehical for misrepresentation, leading to costly breaches of confidential information and patients receiving fradudlent bills for those receiving care under their names.

In an era where data breaches have a ripple effect felt well outside the walls of the hosptial and home of the patient, some organizations have begun to consider and implement new biometric technologies, such as palm scanners, which can not only help to ensure the proper identification of the patient, but can also provide a quick, automatic check-in process for all hospital departments.

Palm scans have been used in Asia for many years, found in ATM machines that opt for a more secure means of access than just a pin code. With one touchless scan of the palm, a system can confirm the identity of a person quickly and accurately.

As several hospitals in the US have already begun to adopt these systems, the following are some of the benefits that have been realized from implementing these increasingly complex patient identification safeguards:

Compliance: With Red Flag rules and the HIPAA regulations, a hospital system is required to ensure that the patient who is being cared is properly identified. Palm scans and other biometric based devices help ensure this is met.

Safety: For patients who have been admitted in the hospital and are receiving bedside medication, it is critical to confirm the patient’s identity when medication is given. Biometric technology can help to drive down medical errors and increase medication adherence through a more complex patient ID process.

Insurance fraud: When using palm scans to identify a returning patient, the system can ensure that the patient is who they say they are. There have been many reported instances in hospitals where family members share insurance information to receive medical services for no pay.

Streamlined registration process: In large hospital organization, having a single, common identification method will help quickly identify the patients who have previously been registered. Whether a patient is going to the imaging center or visiting the surgery center, they can do so simply by putting their palm on the scanner at department check-in.

So far, Fujitsu manufactures most of the palm systems currently in use and also provides a list of solution providers for the health care market place. In my opinion, these scanners present a cost effective solution, especially when compared to retina scanners and other existing finger print ID products, and can help to ensure that a patient’s information stays safe while helping to combat fraud in the system.

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