Patients will soon have a new layer of security when they check in for care at CoxHealth. Imprivata PatientSecure -- a system that ties each patient’s palm vein pattern to his or her medical record -- is being implemented across the health care system over the next few months.

It’s a step that uses technology to address the nation’s number one patient safety goal: correct patient identification. Common names and multiple patient records make it possible to select the wrong chart which could lead to issues with patient care.

“You may be surprised, but many people in our area have the same first and last names,” said Jack Cole, administrative director of Information Technology at CoxHealth. “This will smooth the check-in process. Instead of staff having to determine the correct record, the patient’s palm is used to pull up a single correct record. We have a lot of double-checks to prevent those issues, but this technology will stop the problem entirely.”

Here’s how it works: Whenever a patient comes for an appointment, he or she will simply place their hand on a device that reads the vein pattern in their hand. This pattern is unique to every individual, and is used to create a direct link between someone and their medical record.

It’s a system that Imprivata, PatientSecure’s developer, has created to positively identify patients as they receive health care services.

“Identifying patients correctly is the first and fundamental step in a quality care process,” said Dr. Sean Kelly, Chief Medical Officer at Imprivata and a practicing Emergency Room physician in Boston. “We are pleased to be partnering with large health systems, such as CoxHealth, who are enabling clinicians throughout their facilities to pull up a single medical record for their patients and treat them appropriately.”

There are benefits besides at check-in for planned appointments and procedures. If an enrolled patient is in an accident and arrives in the emergency room unresponsive and without ID, a simple scan will immediately pull up the correct record. This ensures caregivers are treating patients with knowledge of their medications, allergies and complete medical history. PatientSecure also prevents medical fraud, meaning no one can use a stolen or borrowed medical insurance card.

“We want to protect our patients, that’s the primary motivator,” Cole said. “We will protect them medically and secure their record against ID theft. No one can walk in and say they’re you and you get a bill later.”

Ultimately, however, it is also a way to improve health.

“Health care organizations using this technology have consistently seen their patients very satisfied by this service, as it brings them significant benefits. Consider a person arriving in the ER with no ID, it could make all the difference in the outcome,” said Cole. “This technology will save lives.”