Long waiting times in hospitals plague healthcare systems worldwide in terms of efficiency and steal patients’ valuable time which can result in frustration for both medical staff and patients. However, as the biometric sector continues to grow, and its applications proceed to diversify, the benefits of biometric identification within hospitals are becoming clearer and hospitals worldwide are beginning to implement it.
According to the ECRI, an independent non-profit that specializes in patient care research, approximately 13% of identification errors happen upon patient registration which can range from duplicate patient entry, misspelling or name initial confusion. The report also relays that over 33% of patient mix-ups occur during diagnostic work and approximately 22% are associated with treatments or procedures.
These situations of patient mix-ups or incomplete data due to duplicate files can have detrimental and tragic consequences.
Biometrics in hospitals can help ensure that each patient has one file with all their patient history and that they won’t be misidentified. Hospital staff will be able to identify and manage patients with more accuracy.
Biometric identification check-in and registration can also help streamline the process. Whenever there is any type of confusion or potential problem at check-in or patient registration, the front desk has to check the information multiple times or try to resolve the problem. This can take time, worsening the patient experience and lowering patient confidence.
Furthermore, biometric identification can help emergency room staff and doctors treat unconscious victims of car crashes or other accidents when brought in without identification. Doctors can address the patients’ needs right away by quickly identifying the individual through biometric identification to bring up all medical history and allergies.
Biometrics in hospitals can also lead to better patient data protection. According to IBM’s 2018 data breach study, on average, the world’s healthcare systems spent approximately 406 USD per capita due to data breaches in 2018. In general, 27% of all breaches are due to employee error, 25% are due to glitches and 48% are from malicious or criminal attacks. These figures prove the case that the healthcare system’s capacity to ensure data protection needs to be improved.
The implementation of biometric verification to take the place of normal passwords or keys for physical building access and document/data access could help reduce the rates of data breaches and unauthorized individuals accessing hospitals and sensitive information This could also help fighting against medical fraud which can cost a healthcare system like that of the USA billions of US dollars a year.
Hospitals already benefiting from biometrics
Various hospitals have already implemented or are planning to implement biometrics into their healthcare facilities. Just recently in early August, Cox health in Missouri, USA, announced that they will be integrating biometric verification for patient check-in to help improve patient care. The Cox health management will be using palm vein identification as a way to improve their services with the ultimate goal of protecting their patients and saving lives.
Another example is Northwell Health in New York who uses iris scanning and plans to implement facial recognition in the future to fight against fraud and unpaid medical bills.
Biometrics can help increase patient trust within hospitals. Doctors and medical staff will be able to guarantee that patients are who they are claiming to be, doctors and nurses can be sure that they are working with the correct medical information, and access to sensitive information will only be given to those who should; all factors that help build trust and confidence between patients and healthcare systems.