Urban Health Plan, a federally qualified health center in the Bronx, faces a common industry problem: patient identification. "We have 103 Maria Rodriguezes in the practice," said Alison Connelly-Flores, clinical systems administrator, during a presentation at the HIMSS 2010 Conference in Atlanta.

To make sure it was assigning the right patient to the right chart, the practice implemented biometric technology, which scans the iris of the patient, embeds that into an EHR, and becomes part of the way caregivers access the record. The iris recognition program sidestepped having to fingerprint patients, which Connelly-Flores quipped is "something you don't want to do in the Bronx."

The identification program had benefits other than positive patient ID. The technology helped the practice sidestep health care fraud by identifying instances where patients let a family member share their insurance card.

--Gary Baldwin

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