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How can biometrics benefit the healthcare industry?

(Image credit: Image Credit: Pasieka / Getty Images)

Biometrics security is becoming increasingly commonplace in 2018, and is expected to continue in the future. The potential for biometrics for high-value buildings and establishments is astronomical, and is a primary reason for the solid growth of the biometrics market - expected to reach more than $50 billion by 2025. While biometrics security is entering the mainstream, there are many other uses for the secure and reliable technology.

Recently, biometric technology has been tipped as the future for healthcare - both for patient security and better time management. Just some examples where biometrics can improve the sector include enhanced security for patients and employees, as well as reducing the risk of clerical errors and system vulnerabilities.

With the above in mind, ievo Ltd - a leading, UK based biometric company - are sharing the future possibilities of the technology.

Increased patient and employee safety

Of course, one of the leading reasons for the soaring popularity for biometrics is safety. Secure fingerprint and even facial recognition is invaluable for all industries - not just healthcare - to improve physical security in a number of ways. For instance, certain areas are restricted to both patients and employees, and are only available for privileged health personnel. Many hospitals and GP surgeries, today, rely solely on key cards for access to areas within the building. Unfortunately, key cards are extremely vulnerable if misplaced or lost, and can lead to severe breaches that could even risk the life of those within the building. However, biometrics will only grant user access to those with the particular permissions. Therefore, sensitive information/equipment etc. is only available to specific individuals, as fingerprints, for instance, are almost impossible to replicate.

If any instances of malpractice were to occur in the building, biometrics can identify the particular individual in the area at the time, along with the time they ‘clocked in and out’. So, that person is easy to identify.

Restricted access

We touched on this above, but GP surgeries and hospitals hold sensitive and highly classified patient information that must be kept secure at all times. In that sense, biometric technology can help to control the visibility of this information, providing only those with permissions to access the files and even the rooms they are stored. Again, you can keep tracks on any individual if malpractice does begin to occur.

Future possibilities

While the above points can be implemented today and provide all this within the building with greater piece of mind, there are many other possibilities for the technology in the very near future. Biometrics systems are continuously updated and developed, meaning the potential for healthcare is beyond what we ever thought possible.

Patient fraud

Healthcare biometrics, potentially, could reduce patient fraud in the future. Biometric authentication - including facial and fingerprint recognition - could shape the industry and eliminate any possibilities of individuals attempting to pose as other patients for access to treatments and particular medication. As mentioned earlier, fingerprints are almost impossible to replicate with biometric readers, as images of the fingerprints are not actually stored on the reader. Therefore, the right individuals will receive the proper care and treatment.

Language barrier assistance

There are many reasons as to problems with delivery, and one such issue are language barriers. Biometrics could greatly improve the delivery of treatments were there happens to be communication errors between healthcare workers and patients. For instance, if a patient cannot communicate their illness/symptoms, the GP or healthcare worker could access their medical history through a biometrics scan. This scan would then grant the GP access to the records and showcase all known issues, helping to correctly identify the problem and care for the patient.

Patient identification

Again, this is another possibility for biometrics in the future; one that could improve all aspects of healthcare for both patients and employees. It’s crucial that patient information is up to date and correct to ensure they receive the right treatment for their illness. However, should records be lost or, even worse, breached - this could greatly affect the ability to look after and care for the patient. However, this is where biometrics could possibly come into play.

For instance, healthcare workers could identify the patient through a biometric scan and access the records quickly and efficiently. This possibility could also be extended further than hospitals and used for the likes of pop-up clinics, such as blood donor drives. The person who is looking to donate blood could confirm their identity and, of course, blood type through a biometric scan. In this case, the biometric technology would replace the need for blood donor cards and, subsequently, reduce the risk of misplacement and human error. This is a major benefit across the board for biometrics, due to the increased reliability and security. The information stored on readers are also almost impossible to breach and share.

Again, the above measures are still very much in the future, but with the correct regulations and software, the healthcare industry could be changed for the better.

Greater satisfaction

Ultimately, the above biometrics possibilities could vastly improve customer satisfaction and service. Biometric authentication could increase the efficiency and delivery for treatments/medicine and even advice. The technology will also reduce any instances of unwarranted access and possible fatal events - particularly if an individual were to gain access to a certain area within the building.

Biometric technology is, currently, being rolled out across many other sectors. Biometrics in airports are being adopted by many big names - including London Heathrow, who has just announced the largest biometrics roll out. Similarly, Amsterdam airport and many others are looking to streamline the time between ‘check in’ and ‘check out’, using biometrics to do so. In any case, we’ll soon be seeing a lot more of biometrics - far beyond the realm of just physical security. Overall, biometrics technology will benefit all who adopt the technology, especially as it is increasingly more secure than keycards, PINs and passwords, which, in essence, rely on users to keep safe and not share with other individuals.

Ashley Westgate, Marketing Manager, Ievo Reader (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: Pasieka / Getty Images

Ashley Westgate is the marketing manager at ievo Reader.