Getting Smart About Patient ID

Scott Mace, December 15, 2015

Payers and providers are widening their use of a combination of technologies to simplify patient identification at check-in, spurred in part by progress being made in the credit card industry.

This article first appeared in the December 2015 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Slavitt

Craig D. Richardville, MBA

Until recently, most patient ID technology centered on building and maintaining master patient indexes. Enterprise master patient index technology—not a foolproof method of positively identifying someone presenting for treatment—continues to perform foundational work in healthcare.

Now, payers and providers are widening their use of a combination of technologies to simplify patient identification at check-in, spurred in part by progress being made in the credit card industry to adopt smart card technologies, as well as advances in other biometric and cloud technologies.

Providers and payers are expecting a wealth of benefits, including smoother workflow at registration and the same anti-fraud benefits the credit card industry is enjoying.

One of the most successful digital ID programs at a U.S. provider was recently highlighted during a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions in June 2015.

At the hearing, Craig D. Richardville, MBA, FACHE, senior vice president and chief information officer of Charlotte, North Carolina-based Carolinas HealthCare System and chair of the Premier Healthcare Alliance Member Technology Improvement Committee, described how its patient-matching biometric program, which uses palm-vein scanning, has been voluntarily accepted by 99% of its patient population and has a failure rate of only 0.11%, as compared to a national patient-matching failure rate of 8%-10%.

"When you see some of the new things coming out like meaningful use stage 3 and requiring interoperability, a lot of discussion that's going on has to do with uniquely identifying a patient and trying to get an identifier associated with that patient," Richardville says in an interview with HealthLeaders.

Carolinas' journey began back in the middle of the last decade, when Fujitsu, manufacturer of the PalmSecure system, sought to sell its palm-vein scanning technology to the banking industry, a major hub of which is in the Charlotte area, for its ATM machines.

Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.

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