As biometric identification technology makes its way into the mainstream it is changing the way we go about our daily lives, and, gradually, it will change and improve how healthcare systems around the world function.

Using patients’ physiological reference points, such as fingerprint scanning, facial recognition and iris scanning, healthcare systems will put security at the heart of their practices, save time and leave less margin for error.

Patient identification is an imperative part of the process of any healthcare system.

While healthcare professionals will find many uses for biometrics, one of the obvious uses will be in patient identification, an important process that can be easily streamlined with a simple fingerprint scanner or any of the above.

Critically, more streamlined patient identity management offers a lifeline to both stretched healthcare systems and the patients who use them.

For some perspective on the how time-saving alone can benefit some healthcare systems, consider that Britain’s NHS treats 1 million patients every 36 hours. Time, and that’s a lot of it, is money — so the impact of adopting such technology cannot be overstated.

Many healthcare systems, including the NHS, are facing pressure to cut costs and a big part of that could lie in the use of biometric technology.

Furthermore, biometric identification technology is one of the most effective ways of documenting and registering the world’s ‘missing people’. According to the World Bank, more than 20% of the world’s population is without official identification.

Biometric technology can — and in some instances is — already playing a part in helping to bridge the gap as it brings healthcare services and medical checks to far-flung places at the touch of a finger or scan of an iris. SmilePass are currently working with Kwara state in Nigeria to help make healthcare more accessible for millions of rural residents.

Figures show that biometric technology is set for some impressive growth in the healthcare sector. In 2017, the Global Healthcare Biometrics market was valued at $1.63 billion and is expected to grow to $5.02 billion in the next five years.

Adopting such technology should not be difficult. Fingerprint scanners, for example, are already used in a variety of ways, from Apple’s latest iPhone X which launched in 2017, to school library systems.

Additionally, as the world’s population continues to rise, part of healthcare systems cutting costs will come via an increase in home care; essentially, fewer patients in hospital beds. This path is ideally suited to adopt remote digital services that will send crucial patient data and be monitored by specialists to flag at-risk patients in a centralised system.

In the future, we will see everyday patient check-ups carried out remotely from simple mobile apps that have integrated biometric identification. It will also find popular usage in medicine dispensing, which should also leave no room for error.

Biometric identification can save lives: administering the wrong medication or performing the wrong operation on the wrong patient can have grave consequences, just as early disease detection through biometric readings can prevent grave consequences.
Using multiple biometric data points for verification, such as a fingerprint reading and an iris scan, would together close the security gap and shorten the margin for patient error.

Protecting patient data is also of high importance to any healthcare system, which explains why some healthcare systems may be cautious in rushing ahead adopting radical new ways of operating. Many will let other sectors iron out flaws before they adopt.

The threat, after all, is real. An estimate by the FBI states that healthcare fraud, such as fake billing, duplicate claims, etc., is costing the American taxpayer $80 billion a year; no small amount even in a trillion-dollar US industry.

The figures from the NHS and FBI are a testament to how much is at stake in the healthcare sector, and indicates how much healthcare systems have to gain by modernising and adopting biometric technologies.

The technology exists and it can all be done by the touch of a finger or a quick selfie. To find out more about how SmilePass works take a look at our product page or contact us if you have any questions.