The following is a guest article by Juan Ben, a freelance blogger.
For a long, long time, the US healthcare industry has been plagued with an issue which just couldn’t be solved- accurate patient identification and the various problems associated with it. For instance, patient identification errors can prove to be very fatal as well as costly. Not just for patients, the hospitals are affected as well. If they provide treatment to the wrong patient or charge the wrong individual money, the problem becomes a complex mess to untangle.
However, it looks like things are finally changing for the betterment of everyone. Hospitals are starting to employ biometric systems in order to combat errors during patient identification.
Expansion in the healthcare industry is causing the hospitals and clinics acquired by a particular health system to treat more patients than ever. Due to this enormous pressure, these healthcare systems are facing challenges such as matching the patient with his/her own record correctly. This occurs primarily due to common and similarly spelled names as well as addresses.
As no standard national identification system exists, these healthcare providers are looking for alternatives to tackle this simple yet significant issue. This is where biometric identification comes in. It is already being used quite commonly elsewhere, like smartphones, border security, and other areas. Even though a number of experienced individuals voiced that these biometric systems must have policies to ensure that data cannot be breached, some biometric identification systems are already quite secure in the first place.
A few early adopters have already been using biometric identification systems. Houston and other cities of Harris County, Texas, have already been using biometric systems for almost a decade. Others in New York City also are employing biometrics in order to improve the patients’ overall experience, by speeding up the services. Patients only need to register once. Afterward, they can quickly sign in via kiosks and with registrars by giving their biometric information.
Another notable healthcare provider, Northwell Health, started using a combination of iris scanning and facial recognition to ID its patients since last September. It is using patient identification solutions from RightPatient, and plans for a full rollout within early 2020. With RightPatient, patients only need to register their biometric data once at any Northwell location, after that, they only need to scan their irises, eliminating data entry completely, saving time and creating a more convenient experience for the patients. Northwell also plans to attach a sticker with the patients who have registered using RightPatient.
Even though there are some who are skeptical, there are other experienced professionals who believe that biometrics is the future in patient identification and believe that it will help to tackle the current issues faced in the healthcare industry. They believe that the experts in this field need to work together to come up with unique strategies to further improve patient identification.
However, the future is already here, as over 70 hospitals and many other outpatient sites are already familiar with biometric patient identification thanks to RightPatient, with over 10 million patients being benefited, creating a much more seamless and enhanced experience, saving costs for both patients and hospitals and reducing patient identification errors.