The pattern of your vein just might change your next trip to the hospital or even save your life in an emergency situation. Palm vein scanners are being used to get the right care to the right patient with a new system called PatientSecure.
The new registration process with Lake Charles Memorial Health System centers on biometric identification. "You place your right hand on the scanner and scoot it all the way up," explained Patient Access manager, Kimberlee Roberts.
I was curious to see how it worked, so Roberts led me through the quick process. It starts with stating your birthday, then placing your hand on the palm scan device, followed by a picture. "Next time you come in, we'll just simply ask for your date of birth and scan your hand and we'll be able to find you," said Roberts.
This biometric identification system is taking the place of an oftentimes flawed check-in process that can carry human errors. "Previously, we would have to ask your birthday, your social or try to spell your name," said Roberts. "That posed a problem because if we'd spell your name wrong or it was spelled wrong before you came, we weren't able to find you and that caused duplicate medical records."
Selma Fontenot let me tag along for her first experience using PatientSecure. "I just put my hand on it and go all the way down like that with my fingers," she said.
The check-in took under one minute to pull up Fontenot's medical records, critical in the follow-up for this breast cancer survivor. "I think it's wonderful," she said, "especially if it helps them out with records."
The palm vein scan protects against identity theft, limits the amount of personal information said aloud and it could be life-saving in an emergency - when medical history, medication allergies and blood type need to be known. "Even if you were unconscious, we would be able to pull up your information," said Roberts.
Still, some have expressed concerns over its safety. "This infrared light is very safe," said Roberts, "it's like the one that's used in a remote control for your TV."
Palm vein scanners do not come without controversy. In 2012, 20 percent of students' parents at Moss Bluff Elementary opted out of the scanners use in the school cafeteria over privacy and religious concerns.
But in this hospital setting, it is the next level of technology and security to streamline care. "You can't duplicate your palm vein scan," said Roberts, "so this will offer protection."
Two scans are taken in the first visit to ensure consistency. The patient information is not shared and is solely for the hospital's use.
Patients can opt out of the palm vein scan if they are not comfortable with the process.