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Use of Biometrics in PHR(Personal Health Record)

February 6, 2020 - by Parul Saini, Webmedy team

Patient identification is a key aspect of Personal Health Records, and biometrics has a major role to play in the coming future. Biometrics technologies like palm vein readers, facial recognition tech, fingerprint scanners, iris scanners, and many more, have promised to harden up the identification of patients. This would help to confirm that patients are who they say they are, and also helps to ensure that only the authorized person has access to the valid information.

Biometrics technologies have remained moderate to catch on in healthcare. Many clinics and hospitals have achieved some primary tech, but biometrics is still not entirely in the mainstream of the healthcare industry.

The evolution of the Personal Health Record (PHR) has presented individual health information more easily available to a broad range of users including patients, physicians, and healthcare providers. Enhanced accessibility of PHR raises concerns related to privacy, confidentiality, and security of personal health records. Hence the need for a powerful and robust form of authentication is the main concern. Applying biometrics as the patient identifier allows healthcare systems to restrict duplicate medical records and handle fraud while advancing patient safety.

Benefits of Biometric in PHR

  • Performance

    In initial patient registration the biometric system examines your entire biometric database for copies in seconds. This is a single way to correctly restrict duplicate patient reports and reduce patient fraud.
  • Usability

    The biometric system can be combined with your current EHR software. There is no requirement to keep separate biometric patient identification software.
  • Use in Emergency Treatments

    In the event, the patient is unconscious and has no known people around when he/she needs emergency treatments, as in the case of accidents and other life-threatening mishaps, biometric can help in patient identification and can be a life-saving solution.

Biometric Patient Identification solution allows your clinic to avoid duplicate medical records and their associated cost.

Other advantages of Biometric in PHR:

  • Get rid of identification fraud at the end of care
  • Improve patient protection
  • Decrease uncertainty
  • Overcome the effects of social classification protocols
  • Simplify initial registration processes
  • Avoid patient duplication
  • Avoid patient mix-up or misrecognition
  • Improve patient satisfaction
  • More reliable protection than demographic data as a unique identifier

Being able to recognize patients with 100% correctness is necessary for healthcare, so physicians can give a suitable diagnosis and prescription based on that individual's medicinal history. Biometric technologies bring healthcare 100 percent closer towards correct diagnosis than any other tool or manual method. Sean Kelly, MD, leading medical officer at Imprivata said "Healthcare organizations now use various biometric methods such as iris, fingerprint, palm veins facing measures such as correctness, permanency, applicability - patients can also use these purposes,"

Patient misrecognition - The biggest problem

Patient misidentification adversely affects care quality and patient security and health. The topmost reasons for patient misrecognition encompass patient enrollment failures (64 percent), time restrictions when handling patients (60 percent), and duplicate medical documents in the practice (30 percent).

How to overcome this problem?

Biometrics for correct patient recognition

Few healthcare stakeholders have tried to promote patient classification with third-party text-based comparable algorithms supported by demographic information like first and last names, dates of birth, SSNs and addresses, to varying levels of success.

What's been missing from the picture are individual identifiers; specifically, biometrics. Data can be interchanged, removed, forgotten, copied, mistyped, and replicated. A biometric recognizer such as a fingerprint or a face, yet, is integral to a single person. That makes it more helpful for:

  • More Cleaner original patient records
  • More infrequent duplicate health records
  • Reduced risk of operating the wrong patient

Biometrics also operates under those incidents in which clinics or emergency hospital patients do not have any form of physical identification. In effect, patients are their IDs.


Step one in the biometrics-based system is patient enrollment or registering a patient identification. During patient registration, biometric information like a fingerprint, face, iris and/or voice is received. Existing documents are searched for a pre-existing record to check duplicate enrollment. The quality and fitness for biometric matching are evaluated as a component of this method. If no duplicates are detected, the data and record are saved in a protected server.

Biometric Identification

When a patient enters a medical facility, biometric search using their biometric data can positively find the identical personality in the master patient index. This search concludes with a high degree of confidence if a record exists for that patient. If the person is previously registered, medical staff can obtain existing health data and facilitate quality care, which is particularly useful when patients are incapable to affirm their identity. The risk of generating a duplicate health record for a patient that previously exists in the practice is decreased, as well as the likelihood of missing crucial medical data required for correct treatment. Biometric patient recognition also solves problems where individuality misrepresentation is utilized to try to get healthcare without payment. Biometric searches can identify these attempts by discovering if someone is trying to proffer a fake identity.

Patient Identification Management Summary

  • No modifications in the workflow, smooth integration, and protected identity management, photo at enrollment and check-in points
  • The exact connection of each patients individuality with medical record numbers for all patient appointments
  • HIPAA compliant
  • Self-service enrollment with Kiosks, Tabs, Phones, and Desktops

Sure-But-Slow transformation in Healthcare

A recent study exposed that most patients would favor using biometrics across other unique identifiers, indicating advantages such as:

  • Reduced medical errors
  • An extra comprehensive picture of their well-being for clinicians
  • More reliable protection than demographic data as a unique identifier

Physicians similarly stated that biometrics is a reliable means for recognizing individuals. Many already accept biometrics for physical entrance control with their staff. The central reservation for biometrics is whether ruling bodies will actively promote its use. But, the potential of biometrics to recognize patients with close to 100 percent accuracy is unquestioned.

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