VA Good News Story

VHA Issue Brief

Issue Title

VHA Innovation Program Good News Story, Project #214: Patient Picture ID in CPRS. Lead Innovator: Dr. David Lin. Location: Northport, New York VA Medical Center (VAMC).

Date of Report

November 6, 2012

Brief Statement of Program Issues and Status

The functional prototype of Patient Picture ID in the Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS) is complete and available in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Health Information (OHI) Innovation Sandbox. The Innovator plans to assess the impact of picture availability through surveys of primary care staff and then compare the number of medical errors related to choosing the wrong patient’s record before and after implementation.


CPRS is largely a text-based record system. This Innovation actively displays the patient’s photo at the center of the CPRS and Bar Code Medication Administration (BCMA) face page and as a menu-bar thumbnail on all subsequent screens. This system will benefit Veterans with improved personalized care resulting in increased patient satisfaction, better health outcomes, and a reduction in medical errors. Furthermore, if there is no patient picture residing in the patient file, a generic “Male or Female” image appears prompting administrative personnel or the clinician to have the patient’s picture taken.

Actions, Progress, and Resolutions to Date

The use of ‘pick lists’ in CPRS makes it very easy to open the wrong patient’s record. Availability of the patients picture will enhance the patient record by providing visual authentication to verify the identity of the Veteran. Visual authentication can reduce errors in written progress notes, medications, and tests which would reduce instances of orders in the wrong patient’s record. The available data suggests that this occurs on a fairly regular basis. Incorporating the patient’s picture is a major advance in preventing this type of error and will help promote patient-centered care at the same time.

Lessons Learned

This Innovation worked as expected and provides visual authentication of patients and can be printed on the Patient Identification Wrist Band. In addition a Veterans photo is also useful to locate missing patients within the Facility.

Contact for Further Information

Chuck Brown, Director, VHA Innovation Program (10P7I) at 727-667-1259 or


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