Knowing who your patient is with a high degree of certainty has been a problem as long as healthcare has kept records. A more complete and accurate patient medical record delivered to the point of care would result in: fewer diagnostic and treatment errors; improved care coordination across facilities and healthcare providers; and a reduced number of re-admits.  The latest CDC study reveals that each year preventable adverse events (PAEs) lead to the death of 210,000-400,000 patients who seek care at a hospital. According to Fierce Healthcare news, hospital medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

The 2013 Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange ( Wedi ) Report recommends the following actions to address concerns over PAEs,

  • Standardize the patient identification process across the healthcare system.
  • Identify and promote effective and actionable electronic approaches to patient information capture, maintenance and dissemination that leverage mobile devices and “smart” technologies and applications.
  • Identify and promote methods and standards for healthcare information exchange that would enhance care coordination.

Another area of concern that is impacted by absolute patient identity is provider/patient fraud. Not all patient fraud can be eliminated but verifiable patient ID would reduce: filing of claims for services or medications not received; use of a false coverage or insurance card; providers adding charges for procedures or services that did not take place and patient “doctor shopping” or traveling from doctor to doctor for the purpose of obtaining more prescription drugs than they are entitled to.

The FBI reports that healthcare fraud of 3% cost US $80B per year. A 2014 Aberdeen Research Report found that faster detection of fraud or potential fraud correlates with a lower total cost of fraud for the companies who had deployed strong preventative measure by a factor of 4.5 times.  They were also much more successful at minimizing the total costs related by these exploits that did succeed by a factor of 15X. Through their investments in detection, these companies were actually able to allocate a great proportion of their budget to prevention, creating a kind of virtuous cycle. Basically the more you spend on fraud prevention, the more you save by avoiding the cost of fraud.

Requiring hospitals to positively identity their patients would directly address the issue of inaccurate patient identity leading to preventable medical errors. In addition, it would go a long way to prevent patient identity fraud. Patient identity software which provides absolute healthcare identity using a combination of biometrics and smartcards is the most accurate and most secure way of making sure you know who the patient is sitting in front of you.