Penn Highlands Elk to install New Technology to Prevent Identity Theft

September 19, 2014


Medical identity theft is on the rise, and it costs Americans an estimated $40 billion a year.  It can happen as easily as a thief taking a victim’s health insurance card.  When that occurs, it is easy for the thief to get treatments and drugs on the victim’s tab.  It also causes breaches in the medical record, as the physician and nurse chart information on the wrong record.

Fortunately, a health intelligence company, CrossChx, has developed a system to protect against this fraud.  Penn Highlands Elk is proud to announce it is one of the pilot facilities for this new system, called SafeChx.  

SafeChx uses biometric technology to scan a patient’s right index finger.  Then each patient is assigned a unique code that links him or her to a medical record.  A SafeChx scanner will be installed at each registration desk. Beginning September 23, when a patient registers, he or she will be asked to place the finger in the scanner five times to initiate a unique code.  At subsequent visits, the patient needs to make only one, quick scan.  It is important to note that fingerprints are not being stored in the hospital’s system – only a code.

Participation in the SafeChx system is voluntary; however, Penn Highlands Elk’s Director of Health Information Management, Kathy Vargas, highly encourages patients to participate.  

“The goal, beside the prevention of identity theft, is patient safety,” said Vargas.  “We want to ensure that the right patient receives the right care every time.  It is common to see multiple patients with the same name, and it would be possible, although unlikely, to pull the incorrect medical file.  SafeChx prevents this potential error.” 

Hospitals that have already installed SafeChx have seen a patient acceptance rate of 97 percent.  

“We hope that our patients at Penn Highlands Elk will see this new technology the same way we do – a great advancement in safe care,” said Vargas.