Explainer: Healthcare and Medical Biometrics

December 13, 2013 - 

Healthcare biometrics refers to biometric applications in doctors’ offices, hospitals, or for use in monitoring patients. This can include access control, identification, workforce management or patient record storage.

Many hospitals and healthcare organizations are currently deploying biometric security architecture. Secure identification is critical in the health care system, both to control logical access to centralized archives of digitized patients’ data, and to limit physical access to buildings and hospital wards, and to authenticate medical and social support personnel.

There is also an increasing need to identify patients with a high degree of certainty. Identity verification solutions based on biometric technology can provide identity assurance and authentication while increasing privacy and security. Biometric technology can add operational efficiencies to the healthcare system that reduce costs, reduce fraud, and increases patient satisfaction by reducing medical errors. As electronic health records (EHRs) and personal health records (PHRs) become more commonly used, biometrics will be utilized as an authentication mechanism by both medical facilities and insurers.

In some developed countries, records must be kept every time a patient’s electronic record is accessed. Biometrics permit medical professionals to do this easily since their use of a biometric identifier can be automatically and digitally recorded each time a medical record is opened. A number of biometric equipment manufacturers and service providers offer turnkey applications that maintain and track access to EHRs.

In contrast to health biometrics, personal medical data, which includes digital images and biorhythm recordings, are referred to as medical biometrics. Such data is produced in ever-increasing quantities and used for diagnostic and therapy purposes. Medical biometric research aims to use personal medical data sets, such as images and biologically-measurable signals, for solving medical problems and to provide high-performance services in the medical field.

Medical biometric systems integrate multiple technologies from the fields of biology, medicine, consumer electronics, statistics and ubiquitous computing to create systems of computer-aided diagnosis and therapy. Previously such systems were expensive and contained to medical facilities, but increasingly, such systems are becoming miniaturized and integrated into wearable technologies, such as bracelets, headbands and watches. Such devices will be able to provide medical diagnostic data through Internet-based cloud applications in the near-term.

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About Rawlson King

Rawlson O’Neil King is a contributing editor at BiometricUpdate.com and is an experienced communications professional, management consultant, trade journalist and author who recently published a book about control and electronic networks and who has written numerous articles in trade publications and academic journals about smart home and building technologies. Follow him @rawlsonking2.