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US veterans’ agency plans biometric authentication pilot for healthcare employees

US veterans’ agency plans biometric authentication pilot for healthcare employees

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs plans to pilot facial recognition tools at VA hospitals in 2024. One plan is to implement face biometrics to replace personal identity verification (PIV) cards for authenticating healthcare workers in ICUs and other VA clinical settings, according to MeriTalk.

Around 95 percent of the VA workforce uses PIV cards to log in to the VA network. Workers who are trying to care for veterans currently need to manually take out their PIV card and plug it into their workstation to verify their identity, but this can be difficult to do when a worker is in the middle of administering a shot or exam.

Moreover, if the patient is experiencing a mental or physical health crisis, it may not be feasible for a worker to get to their workstation to verify their identity. Both workers and patients would benefit from a more frictionless login experience.

The pilots are a part of larger efforts to modernize access management across the VA and improve standards for cybersecurity over the next three to five years.

“We’re looking at our single sign-on experiences for both internal and external users, making sure that we are using multifactor [authentication], and making it compliant, making it an easy experience for the users,” said Carrie Lee, VA deputy chief information officer for product engineering service, according to Federal News Network.

The VA is using Login.gov and transitioning away from authentication that only asks for usernames and passwords to meet a higher standard for cybersecurity. Around 30,000 VA employees still log on to the network exclusively through usernames and passwords.

The IRS recently decided to use ID.me instead of Login.gov for a single sign-on pilot to provide a higher level of identity assurance.

The VA is also shifting some of its systems to a continuous authority to operate.

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