New ‘Eyeprint’ Technology to Prevent Medical Record Mix-Ups

A medical centre in California, USA is changing the way it identifies patients as they come in the door. The Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno is rolling out a new initiative that will use the eyeprint of registered patients to reduce identification errors.

This advance comes after patient matching has been pushed into the spotlight of the American healthcare system recently. More organisations than ever are calling for Congress to consider a national patient identifier, which would go some way to prevent patient identification errors that are commonplace within the current healthcare system.

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The Fresno Medical Center is one step ahead of these calls for Congress to improve the way patients are identified and matched to their records; they are using eye-scanning technology to add a so-called ‘eyeprint’ so each patients’ medical record.

The hospital started pilot work for the program approximately three months ago, using technology originally manufactured by RightPatient – a biometric patient identification platform that aims to eliminate healthcare fraud caused by medical identity theft.

Judi Binderman is Chief Medical Informatics Officer at Community Medical Centers. She recently told the press that the current system requires a lot of time to be invested patient records and moving information from one chart to another. This is thought to be the reasoning behind the recent push to move away from traditional forms of verification, in favour of automated methods.

As well as offering an automated and time-efficient method for patients to be matched up to their records, the technology also means that patients can be identified quickly even if they are in a critical condition. Gone are the days of searching for their driving licence or bank card; a patient’s eye could be opened and scanned in order to ascertain their identity. It’s important to note that the dangers of this method are minimal; with previous ideas centred on scanning the eye of a patient, retinal scanning was the planned route. This would have beaned a low-energy infrared light into a person’s eye. The technology being used in Fresno does not involve that beam of light. It simply recognises the iris captured in a high-resolution facial photo – an ‘eyeprint’.

The use of biometrics can be a controversial topic, and critics have raised concerns. These concerns are not insignificant. Should hackers access biometric data, the healthcare systems linked to it could be at a higher fraud risk than ever. In addition, paper identification offers methods of reissuing data that biometric records cannot.