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Is my patient's location accurate?
Is my patient's location accurate?

Why your patient's location may not appear correctly

Dan avatar
Written by Dan
Updated over a week ago

How location is determined

To understand why a patient’s location isn’t always accurate, we need to find out how locations are determined.

IP-based geolocation uses IP-based geolocation to determine a patient’s location. This uses geolocation approximation based on your public-facing internet protocol (IP) address (which is used whenever you visit a website). The location information is usually a close approximation but isn't 100% accurate. The data is referenced against a database with more than 2 million unique locations in over 200,000 cities across the globe. The data is then compiled to correlate your computer's IP address with a physical location (such as a suburb, city, state, or country).

Why is my or my patient’s location wrong then?

It can be hard to determine exactly where traffic is coming from based on an IP address alone. Here are a few factors that affect the accuracy of a location:

  • Internet service provider
    One factor that influences location accuracy is the internet service provider (ISP). ISPs route their traffic to a fairly central location (a hub) before it reaches the public internet. Because of this, your internet traffic will appear to be coming from the location of the ISP's hub location. This is why you might see a patient who lives in a tri-state area show up as being located in a different state. This is an infrastructural issue and nothing can be done to correct this.

  • Geolocation
    Another influencing factor, particularly common with mobile data, is the geolocation of a mobile device. Cell phones obtain new IP addresses as they move from tower to tower, and data from these carriers can be routed to a centralized location nationally. Once again, this is an infrastructural issue and nothing can be done to correct this.

  • Virtual private networks
    Finally, with the more recent adoption of virtual private networks (VPNs) and users looking to protect their online privacy, many services and companies have begun implementing location-masking services. A VPN is designed to prevent data spying on your internet traffic. Apple, for example, includes iCloud Private Relay, one such masking service, at the touch of a button on every iPhone nationwide. Other VPN services are available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, and they can be the reason why your patient in New York might show up as being located in California. VPNs are connected to software and can usually be disabled to reveal a true location.

Diagram showing User connecting to the internet using a VPN

(2023, February 14). What Is a VPN & How Does It Work? Okta. Retrieved June 13, 2023, from

Best practices

If you are concerned about the location that your patient is reporting from, we recommend sending them a chat message or reaching out to confirm their location before starting your session.

Contact support

If you have any other questions, please contact our support team.

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