By Kathleen Erickson, VP of Business Development, Fulcrum Biometrics
When a medical clinic based in Papua New Guinea was tasked with the challenge of accurately identifying repeat patients, biometrics turned out to be the ideal solution. In a culture where name changes are frequent and people often have no form of ID, the clinic found biometrics could provide a reliable form of identification for its patients.
Fulcrum Biometrics worked with the New Tribes Mission Medical Clinic to create a customized application that enables the clinic to accurately identify people who come for services and ensure that their medical records are properly documented and updated. The system, based on Fulcrum’s FbF Demographica application, uses fingerprints for identification and facial recognition for additional confirmation.
Founded in 1994 in Papua New Guinea, the New Tribes Mission Medical Clinic serves several thousand local citizens along with roughly 1,000 missionaries and other expatriates living in the area. In a country that is known for having a limited and highly fragmented health care system, the clinic provides vital medical care through office visits and minor procedures as well as laboratory, radiology, sonography and pharmacy services.
Since its inception, the New Tribes Mission clinic had struggled to keep accurate medical records for the local citizens. Papua New Guinea has at least 840 different indigenous languages among a population of 6.4 million. Many of New Tribes Mission’s patients have no form of identification and are unable to read, write or sign their names.
In addition, individuals often change their names and it isn’t uncommon for multiple family members to have the same name. This posed some serious issues for both delivery of care and for medical record keeping, as personnel risked misidentifying patients and mixing up medical histories.
The FbF Demographica biometric identification system provides a quick, accurate and easy way to register patients and ensure that medical records are associated with the proper identity, even if there is a name change. Fast, accurate biometric identification helps staff spend more time with patients and feel confident that records are properly assigned and tracked over time.
As many local residents have no official form of ID, in the past, each time an individual came into the clinic, he or she was required to provide a name or family name along with other basic information that would help establish that patient’s identity for the creation and maintenance of accurate records. Filling out and signing lengthy medical forms was problematic for patients who could not read or write, so clinic staff were required to conduct lengthy interviews just to establish a person’s identity and determine if they had services in the past.
With the FbF Demographica-based identification solution, each time a new individual comes into the clinic the patient is registered in the system with demographic data as well as four fingerprint scans and a photo. This identification information is permanently attached to the patient’s medical records.
On each subsequent visit to the clinic, the patient signs in by scanning four fingerprints. The system then pulls up the patient’s identification record with the patient’s photograph and the receptionist verifies that the right person has been identified by the system.
Simply put, biometrics gives peace-of-mind.
The new system is much easier and less stressful for the patients to use, and it has been well received by both staff and the local population. Not only has the system reduced the time required to ensure accurate identification of patients, but in so doing, it has also provided peace-of-mind for both patients and the health care professionals who serve them. Clinic personnel can rest assured that no matter what name the patient is using, the patient’s medical records are accurately tied to his or her unique, personal identity through biometrics.
How it works
The biometric framework seamlessly blends customization and easy hardware integration.
The application is browser-based and operates on a standard desktop PC running a Windows OS. A Logitech Web camera is used to capture face images and a Lumidigm M-Series multi-spectral fingerprint reader is used for capturing and identifying fingerprints. As many local residents live and work in challenging physical conditions, their fingerprints can become damaged or worn over time. The Lumidigm M-Series is particularly useful in scanning difficult-to read fingerprints because it reads not only the surface print, but the subsurface print as well.
Although biometric identification currently takes place using only finger scans – with pictures used solely for confirmation – the flexibility inherent in Fulcrum Biometric Framework provides New Tribes with the option to implement a full multi-biometric system in the future.