Making healthcare facilities more secure with biometrics

Making healthcare facilities more secure with biometrics
There are currently several areas within healthcare where there is a lot of interest in biometrics. “Biometrics is replacing more traditional forms of authentication (such as medical cards, driver’s licenses and knowledge-based questions) with hospitals and clinics for patient check-in,” said Jason Bradlee, Head of Security for the Americas at Fujitsu America. “These new patient check-in solutions are more innovative ways to provide identity assurance and provide a more friendly user experience by adopting biometric authentication using different modalities such as face, voice, iris, palm vein and fingerprint.”

Access control is one area that could greatly benefit from the use of biometric technology, especially in the healthcare sector where the security of drugs, patient data and expensive equipment is critical. While the use of proximity and smart cards for access control is still a norm in these facilities, James Ford, Director of Global Marketing at Stanley Product and Technology, pointed to the inherent flaws in card management.

“If a card is lost or stolen, if it is not related to an individual in any way and there is nothing to challenge entry. However, biometric technologies such as fingerprint reading, vein pattern reading, heartbeat recognition, iris recognition and facial recognition offer more far more advanced and secure options than a simple card,” Ford said. “Also, given the sterile environments that are often required within healthcare facilities, biometric technology provides a suitable and practical alternative.”

Biometrics can also help combat medical and insurance fraud. “Bringing biometrics into healthcare facilities helps to reduce medical fraud which is costly, time consuming to resolve, and has a negative impact on the reputation of these facilities,” Bradlee said. “In addition, connecting patients to the correct medical record, using biometrics to ensure the patients identity, will reduce medical errors in diagnosis and treatment.”

Bradlee also addressed the 21st Century CURES Act, a law enacted in the U.S. by congress in December 2016, requiring states to implement an electronic visit verification (EVV) system for personal care and home health services that are provided in a member’s home. “This requirement brings new efficiencies, cost savings, reductions in fraud, and care improvements to the personal care and home healthcare sectors. The use of biometrics in an EVV system allows the system to validate a user’s identity easily and securely, on a smartphone or tablet, and then authenticate their activity. This confirms the caregiver’s location and timeframe as they administer care specific to a patient.”
Jason Bradlee, Head of Security,
Americas, Fujitsu America

Touchless biometrics on the rise

There has been an uptake in demand for touchless biometric solutions in healthcare. In an environment that requires sterility and a high-standard of hygiene, touchless biometrics could just be the answer to preventing the spread of germs and communicable diseases.

Bradlee pointed to contactless devices such as Fujitsu’s PalmSecure — a contactless sensor used to capture palm vein information for patient identification. Such devices are ideally designed for healthcare needs. “It is a simple, quick and effective modality for biometric verification requiring no connect with the sensor,” he added. The use of palm vein information is also highly secure, as vein patterns are unique to individuals.

Singled out by Grand View Research for its uniqueness compared to other biometric technologies, Iris recognition is another touchless method, which the research company expects to show lucrative growth in the healthcare sector.

EyeLock, a company specializing in iris-based identity authentication solutions, recently announced it has set its sights on the healthcare industry, identifying it as a market where its “completely touchless and highly secure biometric could have a positive impact.”

In a press release, Jeff Carter, CEO of EyeLock said, “EyeLock provides a solution that has distinct advantages over other commonly used biometrics. Our focus is to educate healthcare professionals, hospital administrators and hospital equipment manufacturers as to these very important advantages. Then deliver a solution where the standoff distance, unmatched security with an over 1-in-2.25 trillion false acceptance rate for both eyes and completely touchless interface, create value for these enterprises and the patients they serve. Further, our solutions provide meaningful benefits for inventory and access control of high-value areas such as pharmacy, supplies and patient records.”

Another method of minimizing the spread of germs may already be in our pockets. “Moving forward, we believe that moving biometric authentication to patients’ personal devices (such as smartphones) is more cost effective and reduces the transmission of diseases by limiting the contact surfaces exposed to patients,” Bradlee said.

Challenges in deployment

In terms of challenges, ease of integration, flexibility, environmental control, device reliability and patient confidence and adoption are among the biggest when looking to deploy biometric devices in healthcare facilities.

Fujitsu overcomes these challenges by providing a platform that is seamlessly integrated with the healthcare organization’s existing systems and workflow, according to Bradlee. “Additional patient-proofing is also managed in through the functionality of the system. The platform can also keep the patients’ biometric anonymous, so they are not associated with patient data.”

A multi-modal future?

Multi-modal biometric readers are not yet the standard in healthcare facilities; however, Bradlee believes it will become more standard in the near future because of individual situations and environments. “Multi-modal biometric solutions provide choices which may lead to less friction and a better user experience.” For now, we will continue to see the implementation of biometrics to combat data corruption, prevent unauthorized access and increase security.
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