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Healthcare professionals are catching on to the value of using biometrics for patient identification. As cases of medical identity theft increase and liability mounts, the industry has been turning to biometrics to ensure 100% patient identification accuracy, safeguard patient health, eliminate medical identity fraud, and cut costs. In addition, biometric patient identification systems instantly interface with any electronic health record or patient management software which means they can be up and running quickly without any database or code-level integration needed. Seamless interface capability helps smooth the transition from a more traditional means of identifying patients (name, DOB, social security number) to biometrics, a more modernized method that uses physiological characteristics of the human body to identify a patient.
Before you consider investing in a biometric patient identification system, it is important to understand the two fundamental differences in how back end biometric engins/systems/algorithms authenticate an individual:
a) 1:1 (one to one) verification – This method of authentication answers the question: Am I who I claim to be? and involves confirming or denying a person’s claimed identity. For example, when used in patient identification a patient would present a form of identification (driver’s license, social security card, insurance card, etc.) and after their record is pulled up they would then scan their biometric information to verify that they are the same person their identification states they are.
b) 1:N (one to many) identification – This method of authentication answers the question: Who am I? and the system must identify a person from a list of users in the template database. For example, when used in patient identification a patient would scan their biometric information first which immediately pulls up the patient record associated with their template before presenting any other form of identification.
Why is it important to understand the differences between biometric verification and biometric identification when it comes to eliminating medical identity fraud and duplicate records? Relying on 1:1 verification can create problems during patient registration. Since medical records are usually associated with a person’s date of birth or social security number, 1:1 verification creates the possibility of a person using a forged, fake or stolen ID to link their biometric identity to another patient’s record. Furthermore, since ID’s or insurance cards can be forged repeatedly then it’s possible that multiple medical records could exist for the same person all using the same biometric template. 1:1 verification would not catch this at registration.
The key to eliminating patient fraud is to catch a perpetrator at the time of registration before services are rendered. 1:N matching allows a healthcare facility to prevent medical identity theft by instantly performing a dedupe of their records before the record is created.
Understanding how biometric patient identification works and the functionality of the backend system is essential to working towards the ultimate goal of improving patient care. Eliminating patient identify fraud and lowering medical liability litigation costs is key for the healthcare industry to maintain economic vitality to continue the fight of safeguarding our health.