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10 Feb

Is there a solution for patient misidentification issues?

PatientSecure palm scanning technology

A woman, we’ll call Hilda, dials 911. When the paramedics arrive, they decide she needs to be taken to the hospital.  The neighbor helps find her driver’s license and social security card for admitting records.  Hilda isn’t able to speak any more when she arrives at the hospital.  After being admitted as a “Jane Doe”, her husband and neighbor arrive at the hospital. They are told there is no Hilda in the hospital.  Her husband frantically tries to track her down.  He calls the ambulance service, and they tell him they left her driver’s license and social security cards with the emergency room staff.  Finally the neighbor starts yelling at them, and someone wakes up to realize they have Hilda in the hospital, under “Jane Doe”. 

Registration-associated patient misidentification is an issue that healthcare facilities are constantly working to reduce. A 2008 Johns Hopkins study found that the majority of patient identification errors in the emergency department were due to errors occurring during registration. So how exactly could a situation like Hilda’s have been avoided?

In recent years, palm-scanning technology has been popping up in healthcare facilities nationwide, allowing for high-tech patient identification via a biometric scan that recognizes unique physical characteristics. Such palms scanners use infrared light to detect the blood flowing in your veins, which flows in a pattern that is more unique than a fingerprint!

One of the top providers of this technology, PatientSecure provides the palm-scanning technology to more than 250 healthcare facilities throughout the US, including NYU Langone Medical Center. Nader Mherabi, the chief information officer at NYU Langone Medical Center, says he chose palm-scanning technology for his hospital because, “it was widely proven in the financial industry in Japan, where it is used in ATM machines to confirm the identity of people accessing their bank accounts.”

Beyond making patient registration more efficient and aid in reducing patient misidentification, palm-scanning technology also prevents sharing of information by patients that could lead to insurance fraud. So the next time you are checking into a hospital, be prepared to just hold your hand out as a palm scan may be your safest and most efficient ticket in the door.

Have any first-hand (no pun intended!) experiences with palm-scanning technology? If so, what did you think? Let us know by commenting below.


Mickey Lovingood is a Business Development Coordinator on our Healthcare Business Development Team. She has more than 15 years’ experience in customer relations and sales.

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