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Speakers » Raymond D. Aller
Raymond D. Aller
Clinical Professor of Pathology, Emeritus, University of Southern California, USA
Most healthcare organizations don’t positively identify their patients! How do we remedy this?
- Fewer than 10% of hospitals in the US positively identify their patients before diagnosing and treating them;
- Despite an 8% or more rate of documented misidentifications, improving their identification tools is not given:
a. Budgetary priority;
b. Operational attention.
- Health systems that have implemented modern biometric tools have greatly diminished patient misidentification.
Healthcare systems in the US are plagued by the syndrome of ‘we don’t know about misidentification – therefore it must not be a problem’. Fortunately, some systems have addressed this issue, and have improved patient safety, achieved competitive advantage, and decreased rates of fraud by implementing biological (biometric) measures of who the patient really is – rather than continuing to match text strings not directly linked to the patient’s identity. What are the sociological, operational, and financial factors that amplify the rate of misidentification? What are the error rates of health systems that still use text-matching to try to approximate a patient’s identity? What is the experience of health systems that have implemented biometric identification? While most cost savings are difficult to quantitate, what are the directly measured fiscal benefits of knowing a patient’s identity, vs. guessing?
Dr Raymond Aller has had a distinguished career in healthcare informatics. At Harvard Medical School, he helped develop the first edition of SNOMED, the now-worldwide standard nomenclature code for medicine. He designed the first online surgical pathology information system, which became the prototype for many other systems in hundreds of laboratories. While training at University of California, San Francisco, he helped develop the concepts behind the HL7 standard, the primary mechanism by which healthcare systems communicate with one another. He has championed the evolution of LOINC, the standard code for laboratory test names. In 1991, he led the team proposing the establishment of clinical informatics as a medical specialty. He has guided the development of laboratory information systems in the United States, especially via his monthly informatics articles in CAP Today, the largest laboratory publication in the US. In these pages in 1992, he championed the use of bedside automated identification (barcode) to ensure that specimens were drawn from the proper patient; this has now reached fruition. More recently, he has extended this to point out that we need to primarily identify the patient through use of biometrics.