Applications of biometrics

There are a lot of regular people who have been using biometrics for a long time. Nowadays, almost everyone has used or has access to biometrics- most smartphones have biometric identification systems- fingerprints, irises, facial recognition, you name it. Since security is a growing concern in recent times, these identification systems help to identify that the authorized personnel is using the devices and not some fraudster.

Using biometric identification systems to keep our smartphones and their data secure is one thing- there are other applications where biometrics are used to safeguard information. Government agencies, financial organizations, and other consumer electronics industries are using it to secure sensitive data. However, one of the most crucial industries to use biometrics is the US healthcare system- using it for accurate patient identification. But why does it need it in the first place? Let’s explore.

Problems associated with patient misidentification

Patient identification has been a mess since the earliest days of healthcare. However, patient matching errors have grown exponentially since there are duplicate medical records within the databases as well as incomplete medical records and overlays (one record merged or overwritten with another record). But why are there duplicate medical records in the first place? Well, various people can have common names, addresses, as well as other demographic characteristics required to be kept within the electronic health records of patients. Any given healthcare provider has several records- Terrebonne General Medical Center itself has over ten million medical records. Imagine finding an accurate patient record from ten million using only names and demographics! Sometimes, the hospital staff can’t find the accurate medical record and they inadvertently create a duplicate medical record within the system.

These duplicates and overlays are quite dangerous for patients, as they might not contain the previous medical history, medications, and other relevant data of the patients, resulting in erroneous treatments. Patient mix-ups are also a possibility, resulting in wrong treatments, sometimes, even deaths. Patient misidentification is a huge burden for both healthcare providers as well as patients. Patients have both financial and physical risks, whereas healthcare providers have their reputation on the line as well as their financial performance and ratings. For instance, if a healthcare provider experiences a patient matching error, it means ratings might go down due to patient safety issues and lots of unwanted news coverage will be attracted- jeopardizing the reputation of the institution. Thus- accurate patient identification is of utmost importance.

This is where biometrics come in

Several progressive healthcare providers are ahead of the curve. They are already using innovative solutions such as RightPatient- a biometric patient identification platform. The organization says that they have seen growing uses and interest regarding biometrics in healthcare providers- both big and small.

RightPatient locks the medical records of the patients with their biometric data – making it impossible for access without the biometrics of the patients. After a patient enrolls within the platform, all the hospital needs to do is scan the biometrics of the patients – the platform identifies the accurate medical record within seconds and then presents to the staff for further use – ensuring positive patient identification. RightPatient is being used by several health systems such as Novant Health, Northwell Health, and Terrebonne General Medical Center and they are reporting promising results such as improved patient identification, enhanced patient safety, and more. For instance, it also prevents medical identity theft, reduces denied claims, and optimizes the revenue cycles of hospitals. The users have reported that the patient acceptance rate is over 99%, as it is convenient for patients as well.

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