Biometrics can ensure healthcare data integrity

September 6, 2012 - 

According to John Trader, Public Relations and Marketing Manager at M2SYS Technology in an article in Becker’s Hospital Review, the healthcare industry is enhancing efficiencies and quality of patient care by using biometrics for accurate patient identification.

Hospitals and healthcare systems have been rapidly moving to electronic health records. As they move and coordinate care across networks through health information exchanges, information systems can become highly susceptible to corruption or unauthorized entry.

Such intrusions reduce privacy and can even become a matter of life and death for patients if information is compromised.

Health information exchanges work across an entire ecosystem of institutions and facilities, so it is not just about one company or one hospital, but about a collective and cost-effective effort from all healthcare providers across the industry.

Health information exchanges rely on data integrity that originates in accurate patient identification. Because it is important to maintain data integrity across the network, precise patient identification is crucial to make sure that the right care is given to the right patient.

Thus, patient’s data need to be complete, updated, accurate, secure and properly linked across systems.

In a 2009 research study, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society found that: “A local system with a poorly maintained or ‘dirty’ master patient index will only proliferate and contaminate all of the other systems to which it links.”

There are certain standards set in the use of biometrics to establish “patient identity integrity.” One technology that is compliant with the standards set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology is the iris biometric patient identification template.

Establishing a unique biometric template linked to one medical record, helps to not just positively identify patients but prevent duplication of medical records and provides protection against medical identity theft.

Iris biometrics has been extensively tested. It is used to establish ‘patient identity integrity’ upon admission and during a patient’s stay for reliable and authentic data for use by the network.

The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, has recognized using biometrics at patient touch points to support healthcare patient identification protocols.

Using biometrics accurately identifies patients, saves hospitals billions of dollars per year, and mitigates medical errors and their costly consequences.

Does using biometrics to positively identify patients lead to better quality care?

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About T'ash Spenser

T’ash Spencer writes full time for She has 15 years experience in the field of regional planning and earned her Master’s of Science in Regional Development Planning and Management from the University of Dortmund, Germany. Follow her @tashspencer1.