ID software means less chance of identity theft

Over the past several years, patients repeatedly told registrars at Bay Care Health System — a Tampa, FL-based system consisting of 11 not-for-profit hospitals, outpatient facilities, and services — that they were concerned about medical identity theft. They didn't want to provide sensitive identifying information, such as Social Security number, each time they accessed the facility.

These concerns were one reason that the hospital system chose to invest in a patient identification system, which integrates with the department's electronic medical record system. Patient records are now brought up with the scan of a palm, with no need to give out personal information.

"This results in continuity of care and avoids unnecessary tests," says Candace Gray, director of admitting and registration. "Patients also can be quickly identified in case of an emergency, without having to say anything. We once had a patient come to one of our hospitals and we were able to pull up his previous information and notify his family."

Duplicate patient records are less likely to occur, and there's less chance of the misuse of Social Security numbers and insurance cards. Patients are quickly and accurately registered, with fast and simple return visits. "These return visits do not require sharing patient identification information," says Gray. "There is greater accuracy, with less information shared. It also guards against identify theft."

Patients like it

"The response from our patients has been overwhelmingly positive," reports Gray. "We enrolled 360,000 patients in the first year and a half, and the patients' compliance rate is over 99%. It's easy for staff to use and helps them pick the correct patient if the patient is already enrolled."

The surge in medical identify theft has made patient identification technology a "must have" for patient access departments. "As more and more health systems and other health care providers implement electronic medical records, technology such as palm scanning is crucial to help positively identify patients and ensure continuity of care," says Gray.

[For more information, contact:

Candace Gray, Director, Admitting/Registration, Bay Care Health System, 16255 Bay Vista Drive, Clearwater, FL 33760-3127. E-mail: candace.gray@baycare.org.]