Montana Hospital Moves to Biometric Patient ID

Montana Hospital Moves to Biometric Patient ID

News Nov 14, 2012

Nov. 14--St. Peter's Hospital has begun using a biometric identification system it says will eliminate the need for patients to show identification with each visit while improving the certainty that medical providers will access the medical records of the correct patient.

Called Patient Secure, it requires a simple scan of a palm, taking just seconds. Once a patient is enrolled in the system, he or she will only have to provide date of birth and allow a quick scan of their palm upon registration. Now, the hospital asks for identification from all patients.

The data will be connected with a patient's medical records, so providers will have quick access.

"It pulls you up more quickly in our system than we can type the patient's name in," said Kolene Gardner, director of patient services at St. Peter's.

About 200 hospitals nationwide use the Patient Secure system. St. Peter's is the first in Montana.

The scan uses near-infra-red light to photograph the vein pattern in the right palm, if available. That pattern provides more accurate identification that even fingerprints, Gardner said.

The system may be especially valuable in trauma cases, or in other cases when a person enters the hospital with no other way to identify himself or herself.

It may be especially valuable in cases where patients have identical names. In some larger hospitals, many people with identical names also have identical birthdates.

Enrollment in the system is not required to enter the hospital. It is not available for children younger than 5, and at that age and older they will need to rescan every year because the vein pattern keeps growing.

The hospital has already begun enrolling its employees and volunteers, and should have the scanners up for enrollment for patients later this week at all of its clinics and registration areas, as well as the emergency room.

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Copyright 2012 - Independent Record, Helena, Mont.

Independent Record, Helena, Mont.
Sanjay Talwani
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