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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

CMC adds tech to safeguard records


New state-of-the-art fingerprint scanners installed this week will make clinic check-ins faster and streamline records administration processes.

Patients checking in at Coulee Medical Center can now verify their identities with a state-of-the-art fingerprint scanner.

The "SafeChx" system not only guards against identity theft, but also instantly links all of a patient's records when at check-in. The system guards against misidentifying patients who have the same name and will find multiple accounts opened for a single patient, making check-in faster and records administration more efficient.

The first patient JoAnn Ehlers checked in with the system Tuesday had three accounts, which were then merged, she said.

Enrolling in the system takes about 30 seconds, literally with five taps of an index finger. After that, a patient can check in with one finger scan in seconds.

Paul Tepfenhart said his company, CrossChx, installed about a dozen scanners Monday. They cost the company about $180 each, but they were provided free to CMC. The company, which is currently funded through venture capital, has other products it can charge for later and is currently working on getting its tools into as many facilities as possible.

Tepfenhart said that the system pairs each patient with a 1,600-digit encrypted code and only scans a few points on the fingertip; whole fingerprints are not stored.

"We are committed to protecting our patients and providing our staff with the tools necessary to administer the best quality of care," said Debbie Bigelow, chief executive officer at CMC. "We take a proactive, holistic approach to advancing patient experiences because the people who entrust us with their care deserve no less."

The system is live in more than 700 locations and pairs with more than 30 different electronic health record systems, according to CrossChx, the company that makes it. To date, SafeChx has protected more than 30 million patient identities and identified 2 million patient identity errors across the country, they say.

Eventually, Tepfenhart said, the company hopes it will be possible to link a patient's accounts and medical records nationwide. Current federal law, however, prevents that.

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