“I can tell by your voice harmonics that you’re badly upset Dave. Why don’t you take a stress pill and get some rest?”
HAL, the Heuristically Programmed Algorithmic computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey used voice recognition and artificial general intelligence in some of that movie’s most memorable scenes. But what was so futuristic 50 years ago, is becoming standard fare as biometric technology takes center stage in today’s healthcare environment.
Glorified by Hollywood back in the 1960’s, you’re just as likely today to find biometric scanners at a theme park as you were when they were mounted on Robocop four decades ago. Fingerprint scanners, facial recognition programs, vein detectors, and voice recognition are all being utilized to ensure safety and security.
As biometric technology makes its way into healthcare, the usual concerns for privacy are on the rise but societal needs should override most individual objections to the use of these programs. The bigger concern is for data security. Still, we compiled this list of our top 5 reasons for the use of biometrics in healthcare today.
- Major threats to patient health data have been either deliberate theft or unintentional neglect by personnel in the healthcare sector. As a matter of fact, nearly 7 million files were exposed by healthcare workers in 2017 alone. With biometric verification integrated as a requirement for both healthcare staff access and patient identification, worrying about password leaks become a thing of the past.
- Big news. Hospitals are busy places. Over 35 million patients visited a US hospital just last year. That’s hundreds of millions of health records, diagnoses, tests, medications, and treatments. Despite best efforts to the contrary, 7-10% of patients still get misidentified every year leading to costly, even deadly consequences. Facial recognition software and fingerprint scanning technology can dramatically reduce that statistic.
- Internal pharmaceutical misuse and theft is an annual multi-million dollar problem for the healthcare industry. The introduction of robotic medication dispensing systems 40 years ago allowed medical or pharmacy personnel with a valid ID and PIN to distribute the right medicine, in the right dosage, at the right time. But badges can be lost and PINs can be written down and stolen. Biometric scanners were introduced two years ago and have proven effective in combatting system abuse.
- Biometrics can confirm with 98% accuracy that the patient is in fact who they claim to be. This mitigates the risk of fraud by directly linking medical records to a patient’s unique biopattern. Simply presenting medical documents in exchange for care or medication just won’t cut it for fraudsters as biometric devices gain popularity in the healthcare insurance industry.
- In the US the elderly population is expected to nearly double from 48 million to 88 million by 2050, and as it rises, so will the number of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Right now, biometrics are being considered to protect the safety of these patients. If a patient manages to leave a nursing or assisted living facility, facial recognition can be used to identify them and ensure their safe return.
Eliminating the need to rely on data files containing social security numbers, account records, and your mother’s maiden name is long overdue. Stealing your fingerprints or retina profile is a challenge, even for the most ardent criminal element.
To paraphrase the great Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, biometric technology is ready for its close-up Mr. Demille.