Macro trends in the healthcare industry such as improving patient safety, securing access to clinical records, reducing healthcare fraud, eliminating wasted work and improving the overall patient experience are focusing attention on finding better and more reliable means for human identification. Federal and state regulatory bodies have also accelerated these efforts by creating broad initiatives such as HIPAA, NHII and the Presidential HIT subcommittee. These trends, when combined with current legislative priorities, are forcing healthcare organizations to explore alternative technologies that will help them meet the ever-increasing demand for robust, cost effective and accurate identity management.
In today’s healthcare settings, the need for fast and accurate patient identification has never been more important. In fact, healthcare CEO’s rated this issue as one of the most essential factors affecting proper delivery of clinical services.
The challenges of correctly identifying patients are both varied and complex. A single average-sized hospital can often be tasked with maintaining hundreds of disparate patient databases; a larger healthcare system that has grown through acquisition may find itself supporting multiple operating platforms that do not communicate between hospitals or even amongst themselves within a single facility system. In an effort to solve these issues, some healthcare organizations have turned to complete overhauls of their database platforms by implementing Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI) systems. These efforts require enormous resources in both organizational focus and capital expenditure. A typical EMPI installation may take years to complete and cost tens of millions of dollars.
Whether a healthcare organization elects to implement an EMPI system or not, it still faces a fundamental problem because patient identification today is largely dependent upon demographics. Because these demographic factors are not static (can vary over time), demographic based patient searches can create duplicate records for a single patient or often result in the misidentification of the patient which leads to improper or incomplete medical care. According to a study by Madison Information Technologies, Inc., single facility hospitals have duplication error rates that average 9% - 11%, and have reached as high as 20%, while multi-facility hospitals have error rates that have reached levels as high as 30% 
The stakes are high. There are numerous benefits that can be realized by advancing patient identification techniques:
- Improved Patient Safety
- Reduced Operating Costs
- Improved Patient Experience
- Process Efficiencies
Identification of Healthcare Professionals
Equally as important as identifying patients is identifying healthcare workers. As hospitals and other clinical settings have migrated to a dependency upon computerized patient care, the need to digitally identify healthcare professionals has become paramount. The use of a physical signature to authorize or signify responsibility for delivery of healthcare services has mostly given way to a point and click, or a password.
Accurately identifying the healthcare professional electronically presents a series of new and unique challenges. The methods used for identification must be highly reliable, fast and flexible in order to successfully operate across many varied healthcare locations and conditions. Many healthcare providers are challenging the conventional approach of using a simple password when logging onto a workstation as a means for positive identification. This issue is vital for meeting the higher accuracy and security standard when processing sensitive or high-risk electronic orders (i.e.: medications, emergency procedures and releasing patient records).
This focus on improving the methods for digital identification of healthcare professionals is based upon accomplishing the following:
- Reduction & Prevention of Fraud
- Regulatory Compliance
- Improved Work-Flow
Ultra-Scan develops and markets innovative healthcare identity management systems that solve contemporary mission-critical healthcare problems. Powered by Ultra-Scan’s Livescan Ultrasonic Identification System (LUISTM), Ultra-Scan biometric healthcare solutions combine high performance ultrasonic technology with accurate finger matching software and identity management applications to provide solutions designed to effectively access, manage and approve electronic healthcare information via the positive identification of patients and staff.