Future Tense: Palm Vein Biometric Authentication

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Technology: Palm vein biometric authentication

Purpose: PalmSecure verifies patients' identity and provides secure access to their EMRs, preventing identity theft, insurance fraud, and misidentification. It can detect duplicate medical records if a patient has registered under more than one name. It can also be used to identify patients in an emergency—even if they are unconscious.

Manufacturer and researchers: Fujitsu Frontech and Laboratories

How it works: PalmSecure uses near-infrared light to capture a patient's palm vein pattern, generating a unique biometric template that is matched against preregistered users' vein patterns.

The benefits: Because it is touchless, the technology is more hygienic than touchscreen biometric systems. Its false acceptance and rejection ratios are both less than 0.01%, a rate that's competitive with iris scanning. It leaves virtually no biometric trace behind, so it is difficult (if not impossible) to defeat. And it complies with HIPAA and other regulations.

Early adopters: Bates County Memorial Hospital in Butler, MO, uses PalmSecure to track attendance. The solution reduced the number of false negatives common in the previous fingerprint-based system. PalmSecure saved the hospital money by eliminating a two-factor authentication process that was easily circumvented. Healthcare organizations using the technology include BayCare Health System in Tampa, FL; El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, CA; Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ; and Valley Care Health System in Pleasanton, CA.

Price: Around $350 per stand-alone unit, but a full patient registration system is more costly. A lower-priced version (less than $200) is available for single sign-on use.

Gienna Shaw

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