How Healthcare Is Using Biometrics


Safety and security concerns are driving the switch to biometrics as a means of identifying patients and staff members in health care. Healthcare organizations use biometrics for multifactor identification of patients and staff. It’s also able to safeguard access to patient data and hospital systems.

Fingerprint Biometrics

Electronic prescriptions for controlled substances are carefully regulated. Biometrics solutions, which require two-factor authentication, are approved by the Drug Enforcement Agency to prevent false matches. For example, fingerprint biometric identification produces less than 1 in 1,000 false matches. Fingerprint matches are preferred in many organizations because it’s fast, easy and secure.

No Contact Biometrics

In health care, contact is kept to a minimum to avoid the spread of germs and diseases. That’s why no-contact biometrics such as iris and palm scans work so well. Biometrics are also used at the point of care to identify patients. For example, in radiation oncology, health care providers need to take extra care that they are treating the correct patient. Biometric scans are used to ensure that the right patient receives the right medical treatment.

“Palm vein biometric sensors are easily integrated into any patient or hospital staff identification solution, eliminating the need for ID cards or passwords. This hygienic, non-contact identification alternative quickly establishes the identity of a person.” according to Fujitsu, the product manufacturer.

What Technologies Are Currently in Use?

Today, more than 150 hospitals and health organizations use biometrics to register patients. This is just one way these organizations are going beyond traditional registration processes to ensure the security of patients’ health information. Technological advances in the field are making it easier for more providers to adopt this technology. For instance, modalities include palm, face, voice and ear recognition, as well as fingerprint and iris scans.

The value-based care model is one of the drivers in adopting biometrics to reduce medical errors, prevent fraud and safeguard patient data from cyber thieves. This will also save costs related to billing errors and redundant testing due to records mix-ups.

Biometrics hold promising solutions for patient identification throughout the health care continuum. However, there are still many wrinkles to iron out. Currently, implementing the hardware to conduct the scans can be cost-prohibitive. Some organizations might need quite a bit of convincing before putting this technology in the budget. However, other forces are applying pressure on providers to tighten up security and access to patient data and to patients themselves. For that, no-contact and other biometric solutions are an obvious choice.


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