December 16, 2014 -
Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale, Pennsylvania is installing SafeChx’s fingerprint recognition scanner as a security for its patient identification process to prevent medical identity theft, according to a report by thetimes-tribune.com.
The technology, which will be available at all the hospital registration points starting next week, allows patients the option of scanning their fingers and generating their own unique code in addition to traditional authorization methods such as their photo identification, date of birth and Social Security number.
“The main reason we are doing this is to positively identify the patients so we can reduce the chances of medical fraud and identity theft,” said Tom Hoffman, manager of information services at the hospital.
The hospital is one of 60 hospitals around the country to install the CrossChx system, which stores the patient’s code — and not their fingerprint —on the company’s database.
Once registered, patients simply scan their finger during future visits, which brings up their personal data such as their name and date of birth on the computer screen. The administrative employee will then ask patients for their private information to confirm that it matches.
Hospitals are increasingly using biometrics technology as a tool to curb medical identity theft, which has impacted approximately 1.84 million people in the U.S. resulting in victims having to pay more than $12 billion in out-of-pocket costs.
However, Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, argues that the majority of issues stem from insider access, such as third-party companies.
She suggests that health systems ought to have a plan in place that prepares them for a data breach to reduce the impact and lessen the potential consequences for patients.
“If you have a healthcare database, it’s like a honey pot for thieves because it’s lucrative data,” said Dixon, who also serves as the co-chair of the California Privacy and Security Advisory Board. “The majority of cases happen because internal systems are breached by employees.”