Accurate patient identification is vital for a hospital’s success

by Emily on August 7, 2019

in Articles

Patient identification errors- it is one of the biggest problems the healthcare providers in the US has been facing for a long time, as well as being one of the most overlooked until recently. Why it took so much time for healthcare providers to catch up with such a severe issue, nobody knows for sure, but it has been creating ruckus since the beginning.

The dangers patient misidentifications pose

At first glance, it might seem like patient identification errors are minor and occurs rarely, but let’s speak numbers. It is a multibillion-dollar problem plaguing the healthcare industry, resulting in losses in millions for any given healthcare system. Also, the patients are sufferers for these matching errors- they might be provided with wrong treatments, might be victims of fraudulent activities, may have their medical IDs stolen and lose money in the process. With such crucial aspects like patient safety and incurring potential losses, healthcare systems are finally turning their attention to patient identification errors and are demanding for effective patient identification solutions, which will eliminate these errors.

Accurate patient identification is seen as one of the primary aspects of quality healthcare today, as it also helps to cut losses along with ensuring patient safety and optimal patient experience. An article recently stated what was already well-known among the healthcare systems- such patient identification errors have had substantial adverse effects on the financials of organizations as well as sometimes fatal consequences for those misidentified patients.

Some numbers

A survey with a sample of over 500 healthcare staff also helped to provide detailed statistics for supporting these claims by shedding light on some of the problems associated with patient misidentifications. Some of the highlighted points of the survey are: 

  • 86% of the staff stated they either saw directly or knew indirectly about medical errors which were tied to patient matching errors
  • Out of all the claim denials healthcare providers face, respondents indicated that around 35% of them are regarding patient matching errors or relevant data errors 
  • On average, these claim denials related to patient matching or data errors cost healthcare providers a whopping $1.2 million per annum

Alternatives to conventional patient identification

There have been lots of suggestions going around for proper patient identification. Two-factor authentication (name, DOB) is the most widely used; however, many say that adding one or two more factors can be more productive. However, it can also be time-consuming and inconvenient for all those involved when you consider the amount of time it will take to authenticate the data. Likewise, asking verbal confirmations may not be useful as well, since the patients might be inattentive when it is done and give unreliable responses. Asking adults for other verification materials like photo IDs would not be beneficial as well, since not everyone carries it with them all the time, especially in the case of emergencies. 

What are the healthcare providers using?

All of the above alternatives of conventional patient identification have flaws in one way or the other. So, what did the healthcare providers opt for? Hundreds of hospitals went for RightPatient, an industry-leading biometric patient identification solution. It uses iris scanning modality for a number of factors. Firstly, it is quick, easy, and convenient for the patients, as all they need to do is look at the camera, and they are identified; thus no complex processes for them are present. Also, iris scanning is safe because it does not require any physical contact and thus eliminates the risk of catching diseases from other patients. Once the patient is registered with this solution from the hospital’s end, their healthcare records can be accessed via their photos, reducing any unauthorized access as well. All this also reduces the chance for any misidentifications, and thus, medical identity theft and fraudulent healthcare activities are prevented. Such a solution not only helps to increase patient safety and enhance the patient experience but also save millions by saving healthcare providers from incurring misidentifications and denied claims, creating a favorable scenario for everyone involved, as reported by over a hundred hospitals who are currently using it.

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