Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local News

June 28, 2014

Patient biometric ID deployed at Archbold Hospital

THOMASVILLE — Staff report

Once thought of as a technology relegated to sci-fi films and fantasy novels, biometric identification has made the leap from the big screen into the commercial marketplace and over to Archbold Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department. The new technology offers distinct benefits including increased patient safety measures and efficiency, and larger returns on investment than traditional forms of identification (insurance cards, DOB’s, driver’s licenses) which are highly susceptible to forgery, theft and fraud.

When a patient visits the Archbold Emergency Department, part of the routine registration process now requires for their photo be taken by an iris camera. The photo is then linked to the patient’s electronic health record (EHR) so that each time they return for a visit, the patient registration administrators can use that photo to visibly check and make sure it matches with the patient who is present. This helps to protect the patient against medical identity theft and also can help to identify a patient who may be unconscious.

With only a picture of the eye, the technology determines a person’s identity and answers the question, “Who are you?”

“Iris recognition uses a camera that is similar to commercial digital cameras or those found in smart phones (albeit, the optics are far more sophisticated),” said Michael Trader, president of M2SYS Technology and software developer of the biometric patient identification system Archbold has adopted. “The scanner simply captures a photograph of the eyes.  No light or laser is beamed at the patient. And once an image of the patient’s eyes is captured, biometric software extracts unique data points from it and creates an ‘identity template’ that is used for comparison upon future visits to the facility.”

The technology is safe, reliable and has extremely fast search and matching capability.

According to a study just released by The Ponemon Institute, among the most expensive and dangerous patient safety issues is medical identity theft. The study showed that approximately 1.8 million Americans are victims of medical identity theft, a number that continues to rise each year. In addition, healthcare fraud is estimated to cost between $70 billion and $255 billion per year which accounts for between 3 percent and 10 percent of total U.S. healthcare costs.

“Using biometrics for patient identification helps us protect our patients from problems such as fraud and identity theft,” said Becky Poole, director of patient access at Archbold.

“This technology provides an added measure to increase patient safety and eliminate misidentification, a problem that could eventually lead to duplicate medical records, fraud, identity theft and other threats to patient safety. The implementation of this new technology is just another way Archbold is demonstrating our commitment to protecting our patients and providing them with a safe place to receive care.”

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