Pew Trusts and RTI International to develop roadmap to boost biometric patient matching

Pew Trusts and RTI International to develop roadmap to boost biometric patient matching

With the use of biometrics increasing dramatically in a range of areas, including healthcare, The Pew Charitable Trusts and RTI International have announced a plan to develop a roadmap to widespread “biometrics-enhanced patient matching.”

In a post announcing the project, Pew Health Information Technology Project Director Ben Moscovitch and Robert Furberg, senior clinical informaticist at non-profit research institute RTI International, note the risks of using biometrics without subjects’ awareness and consent, and challenges related to the use of the technology in healthcare. Data security and interoperability are noted as challenges, as well as the possibility that technical and privacy questions may have incompatible answers.

“These issues, however, are central to improving the interoperability of electronic health record systems, particularly when it comes to making sure that different systems can link medical records for the same patient no matter where those records are needed,” they write.

The inadequacy of demographic data on its own, with as many as half of all records transfers failing, is described, along with the effects of failed transfers.

Patients overwhelmingly stated a preference for using biometrics to improve patient matching in focus groups held by Pew, and the two organizations will conduct in-depth interviews with key stakeholders from across America and convene experts to build a consensus-based approach to responsible implementation.

The project will last into 2021, and ask how patients can be assured of the protection of and control over their biometric data, how different systems used within the healthcare system can be used to match records, and what support will be needed among facilities putting the framework into place with limited resources. The latter question may involve how best to leverage mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

Actionable guidance on privacy, technical standards, implementation, and costs is the goal of the project, in the hopes that it will enable increased biometrics use to ensure patients get the right care at the right time.

A recent report suggests the market for biometrics in healthcare will grow by a 19 percent CAGR to 2024.

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