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ID Verification: Dispensing controlled substances to the right patients

Get the right medication to the right patient. It sounds simple enough, but the controls in place in pharmacies today do not always ensure that happens. The current drug crisis has created greater demand for prescription opioids as well as related over-the-counter drugs such as those containing pseudoephedrine. This, in turn, has created a need to more closely control the dispensing of these prescriptions and controlled substances to help curb this epidemic – making sure the right patients get access to these drugs and the wrong individuals do not. Identification (ID) verification demands have increased for Pharmacies and confirming a birth date, address or phone number is no longer enough.

But, are we expecting too much of pharmacists by asking them to be identity verification experts?

ID trends

Remember when alcohol was at the forefront of fake IDs? Underage drinking is still an issue—and a serious one at that—but global demand for fake IDs has gone on to involve medical identity theft, financial fraud, terrorism, cybercrime, entitlement schemes, employment misrepresentation, and beyond.

Online retailers in countries like China and India create high quality counterfeit driver’s licenses that leave even professionals in law enforcement duped. According to the Driver’s License Guide Company, there is no universal standard for what security features are used on IDs and where they are located on the ID. In fact, the organization even offers an entire identification manual that details every ID’s relevant security features. Clearly, clinical care and pharmacy providers do not have the expertise, bandwidth or workflow in place to support such in-depth examination of patient identification cards. So what’s a pharmacist to do?

Misidentification challenges and technology solutions

Faced with the growing trends of medical identity theft and advanced counterfeiting technology, in the form of government documentation and ID cards, the healthcare industry- retail pharmacy included - needs to turn to technology to combat these challenges. While there are many options, from voice recognition software to 3-D face scanning systems, one of the simplest ways is to employ technology to answer the question: Is this ID real or fake? If it is real, then the pharmacy is able to track with increased confidence who has picked up a prescription or controlled substance. If it is fake, the pharmacy knows not to dispense to that person without further proof of identity.

Why would pharmacies benefit from integrating technology capable of authenticating government-issued IDs in real-time? The answer is to save time and improve quality of security. Pharmacists have a tremendous responsibility to make sure the right prescriptions are filled and that their patients understand how to take them, what potential side effects exist, and more. To ask those pharmacists to also memorize identification verification factors on hundreds of different document types (remember, each state has its own driver’s license standards alone and then there are passports, state IDs and other forms of government ID documents) would not only waste time but also distract the pharmacists from other critical tasks. Technology, on the other hand, can easily store hundreds of standards and quickly compare IDs to those standards to determine if the ID is real. It’s even possible, using advanced matching algorithms, for the technology to compare a picture of the individual with the image on the submitted ID to determine if there is a match. Further, technology can scan the patient identification data on the ID to pre-populate forms, creating a smoother, faster experience for both the pharmacist and patient.

We need efficient data management solutions to generate confidence in care, better outcomes, and overall improved population health. It’s time to see what else can be done to minimize a considerable loss of health care dollars due to fraudulent, false, and incomplete patient identification data. Identity verification through technology solutions such as this deliver not only higher accuracy than manual efforts, but efficiency and flexibility to deliver care with confidence.
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