By MARY ANN GREIER
Patients will now hold the keys to their Salem Community Hospital records in the palm of their hands - actually by the vein pattern in their right hand.
From left, Salem Community Hospital Director of Admissions Lynn Dangelo uses the new Patient Secure palm vein biometric patient identification system to register outpatient registration employee Amy Johnson earlier this week. The machine scans the unique vein pattern in a patient’s palm using harmless near-infrared light, ensuring the correct medical records are accessed and making registration quicker and more secure. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
By registering with the hospital's recently-launched Patient Secure program, a patient's next trip to the hospital will make registration more accurate, more secure and less time-consuming, according to SCH Director of Admissions Lynn Dangelo.
All they'll need to do is provide their date of birth and place their right hand on a small scanner. A harmless near infrared light will scan their vein pattern and connect the computer to their medical records, ensuring that hospital personnel have the right records for the right patient.
"We're really excited about it. We're the first in Ohio to have this system," Dangelo said.
SCH Public Relations Director Michele Hoffmeister noted that other hospitals in the United States are using the same patient identification system and have 99 percent acceptance by patients. More than 200 people registered in the system on Tuesday, the day the hospital launched it. According to Hoffmeister, the palm scan is 100 times more accurate than fingerprinting.
Dangelo said some patients had questions, such as whether the scan could be provided to law enforcement or who the information is shared with. She stressed that the scan will be used strictly by SCH to access a patient's medical records and neither the scan nor the medical records will be shared with law enforcement or any other agency due to privacy laws.
She said the response to the new system has been positive. They've been enrolling both employees and patients. To enroll, all that's required is a government-issue photo ID to prove identity, then the patient places their right hand on the scanner and two scans are taken. The next
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time they come to the hospital to register, they just give their date of birth and place their hand on the scanner, then the system reads their palm vein pattern and connects the computer to their unique medical records.
Dangelo said this system will help registration employees make sure they have the right records for the person in front of them, especially in the case when two or more patients could have the same name. She said if a registration employee selected the wrong record, then they could end up merging the records for two different patients and that could create a problem.
"This is our safeguard," she said.
A real plus of the system will be the ability to identify a person who may come into the emergency department with no identification who may be unconscious or unable to speak. A scanner can be taken to a bedside and used to identify the patient if they've already been to the hospital and are part of the system.
Dangelo said they acquired the system to benefit their patients, " to protect them and protect their identity."
The days of reciting personal information, such as social security numbers or addresses, in a small cubicle within earshot of other people will be over.
"It's much faster and more efficient for us," she said.