voice biometrics improves patient engagement in healthcare

Voice Assistants: New Technology in Healthcare

voice biometrics in healthcare

Voice biometrics is helping to improve patient engagement in healthcare.

The following guest post on voice recognition technology in healthcare was submitted by Kate Voss.

The capacity for speech is one of the greatest tools that humans possess, yet most of the healthcare field still operates on the written word and on conventional keyboard-and-mouse computer interfaces. With voice recognition technology appearing poised to break through in the healthcare industry, however, that may finally be changing. Once viewed as a novelty and an unnecessary burden, voice control has already begun to prove its ability to offer greater efficiency, reduce common errors and improve patient engagement.

The Rise of Voice Recognition

Voice recognition has been around in some form or another since the 1950s, but it’s only in the past half-decade or so that the technology has reached the mainstream. Artificial intelligence systems such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa have taken the tech world by storm, taking on the role of digital assistants and integrating voice control into everything from Internet-enabled thermostats to alarm sensors for children and the elderly. This rise has been fueled in part by rapid improvements in voice recognition technology, driven by advanced machine learning and increasingly sophisticated algorithms that have made voice recognition quicker, more responsive and – most importantly – more accurate than ever before.

Voice Recognition in Healthcare

The medical field as a whole has been hesitant to embrace the technology of voice recognition, but early adopters have already begun to reap the rewards. Accurate speech-to-text programs have shown the ability to transcribe physician’s’ notes more accurately than the average human medical transcriptionist, and voice recognition models offer a method for reducing all-too-common issues with illegible handwriting and insufficient documentation of procedures. If adopted on a more widespread level, these factors may facilitate the creation of more accurate, comprehensive and cost-effective electronic health records. Additionally, voice recognition can be used to build more secure data access systems as part of a biometric single sign-on platform.

Boosting Patient Engagement

Though much of the focus on voice recognition in the healthcare industry is on developing technologies to aid providers directly, it only represents one side of the coin. Patient engagement also benefits from such technology, particularly in the form of a conversational user interface. Surveys have indicated that some people feel more comfortable when speaking to a computer than when speaking to a human, leading them to share more readily and provide more detailed information. The ability to simply speak rather than navigating complex websites and apps means that more people can engage with and take a more direct role in their health and treatment. Many older patients, in particular, are able to use voice commands to do things they may otherwise be unable to do because of a lack of computer skills, arthritis, poor eyesight or other conditions.

The Future of Voice Recognitionvoice recognition is helping improve healthcare

As vocal recognition technology continues to mature and becomes more widely adopted, the level of integration both in daily life and in the medical field will likely increase. Experimental pilot programs have already leveraged devices like the Amazon Echo to provide post-discharge information for patients, answer common health questions and manage basic needs like transportation and medication scheduling. Features like this may become common practice in the future, providing patients with a more informative and engaging healthcare experience. Voice recognition is also likely to take on a more expanded role in the daily routine of healthcare providers as well, potentially making the laborious human transcription process and paper-based records a thing of the past as speech recognition becomes even more accurate and reliable.

Though security, reliability and logistical challenges remain, vocal recognition appears to be the wave of the future in healthcare. In a field that is so highly dependent on timely, accurate documentation – and a field in which, according to a 2006 report by the National Academies of Science’s Institute of Medicine, illegible handwriting causes more than 7,000 unnecessary deaths per year – the ability to quickly and precisely transcribe information is invaluable. Widespread adoption could slash operating costs and eliminate a significant burden on healthcare workers, allowing them to see more patients and focus on delivering high-quality care.

Voice Assistants: New Technology in HealthcareKate Voss is a freelance tech and science writer with a strong interest in the development of voice control interfaces and their use in healthcare. A graduate of Michigan State University, she is now based in the Windy City of Chicago, IL.

biometric patient identification systems should offer multiple modalities

Why We Offer a Choice of Hardware Modalities for Biometric Patient ID

biometric patient identification systems should offer multiple modalities

Understanding the value of using a biometric patient identification solution that offers a choice of multiple biometric modalities is key to a better understanding of how this technology can truly increase patient safety in healthcare.

The following guest post was written by David Cuberos, Enterprise Sales Consultant with RightPatient®

On many occasions throughout the course of conversations with different hospitals and healthcare systems, the question of which biometric modality to deploy for a biometric patient identification management project always surfaces. After all, choosing which biometric hardware modality to deploy is a critical factor for patient acceptance and efficient system performance – metrics that have a significant impact on the success and return on investment (ROI) of the initiative. More often than not when our customers and community get an in depth look at the variety of biometric hardware modalities we offer compared to other alternatives, they are curious about why we would support multiple devices instead of just one, and what the pros and cons are of each. The answer uncovers an important, but not frequently discussed attribute of biometric patient identification solutions that hospitals and healthcare organizations should be aware of.

Experience in Biometrics and Health System Integration Matters

The origins of RightPatient®’s biometric matching technology trace back 13 years through the experience and global track record of managing both small and large scale biometric identification management projects in many different industries by our parent company M2SYS Technology. As a proven innovator and expert in biometric matching technology, our experience has taught us that the success of these initiatives is largely dependent on ensuring that the biometric modality used matches the unique needs of our end users, offers the flexibility to change or add a modality in the future, has the ability to be customized prior to launch, and is easily scaled up as the deployment grows. 

Experience in managing biometric identification management projects has also taught us the importance of using human factor engineering as part of our system design process based on understanding what makes a task easy for hospital staff and what makes it hard in order to ultimately develop biometric tools that would support healthcare organization goals.  Deployments became more about identifying solutions that would cut down on “human error” and providing biometric hardware and software systems that fit employee need and workflow and less about deploying a solution that used the most popular and well known technology and relied on traditional conventions.

Ergonomics have become more influential in biometric patient ID system design, and training curriculum was refined to reflect the sources of expert performance, and how hospital staff acquire expertise in working with biometric identity systems. And perhaps most importantly, biometric deployments based on human factor engineering are designed to make systems more resilient in the face of shifting demands.   

Hardware diversity, patient identification mobility, and back end databases that use certain biometric matching types are the only way that hospitals will be able to reach pre-deployment defined goals of eliminating duplicate medical records/overlays, preventing medical ID theft/fraud, and increasing patient safety. The biometric hardware chosen for a deployment has a direct effect on achieving these goals which is why it becomes a critical decision in the overall project scope.

The Problem of “Locking In” to One Biometric Modality System Platform

Biometric vendors who only offer a choice of deploying one biometric modality system for a patient ID initiative are hamstrung by the limitations of the device manufacturer. In other words, they “lock” you into using one biometric modality system that inhibits the ability to expand a deployment to meet the new realities of identifying patients in healthcare – biometric patient ID systems must now be able to offer patient identification at new touchpoints along the care continuum (e.g. – smart mobile devices, patient portals, and telehealth) and not just accurate ID at the point of service. Biometric patient ID systems that rely on one biometric modality can’t offer this flexibility because they can’t identify patients in these scenarios and often times, hospitals who deploy these solutions must either make another investment in a system that does have this capability, or risk not addressing how to offer accurate patient identification for the aforementioned new patient touchpoints – a risk that could have extremely negative repercussions should a patient be mis-identified or a clinician misses key patient health data missing from their medical record.

Deploying a biometric patient authentication system that offers a variety of modalities is the only way a hospital can meet the increasing complications of ensuring accurate identification along the care continuum at new touchpoints, using voice or facial recognition biometrics for smart mobile devices as an example. Absent of this flexibility, hospitals and healthcare organizations are running the risk of non-authorized individuals accessing sensitive personal health information (PHI), or medical information not being attributed to the proper records which is a direct threat to patient safety and an extreme liability.

The ability to establish and maintain patient data integrity is also called into question when locking into a single biometric modality system. The holy grail of patient data integrity is to achieve 100% accuracy, cleanse a master patient index (MPI) of any duplicate medical records/overlays, and then have the ability to maintain that level of integrity as the database grows. Since single biometric modality systems do not have the ability to address accurate patient identification at all touchpoints along the care continuum, hospitals and healthcare organizations run the risk that a care event will either be administered to the incorrect patient, or medical data could be accessed and stolen by an unauthorized individual. Deploying multiple biometric modalities such as facial and voice recognition to address accurate patient ID at ALL touchpoints is the only way that true patient data integrity can be established and maintained. 

Conclusion

As the biometric identification management industry continues it’s rapid pace of evolution and expansion parallel to the evolution and expansion of new patient touchpoints to access medical data and services, hospitals and healthcare organizations should be thinking of deploying a solution that leverages multiple modalities that can accurately identify patients no matter where they are. The only way to accomplish this is the use of a biometric patient ID solution that offers a choice of modalities and a high degree of flexibility for deployment to address various patient touchpoints along the care continuum.

Don’t fall into the trap that a one biometric modality system will be sufficient to ensure accurate patient ID and a high level of patient data integrity across the care continuum. Learn more about how a choice of biometric hardware modalities for patient identification in healthcare is a smarter investment that will truly help hospitals and healthcare organizations achieve the goals that measure the success of the initiative.

Partnering with a vendor that has deep experience in biometric identification management technology, a strong track record of healthcare system integration experience, and a history of innovation is the only way to achieve the results you expect.

What patient ID challenges have you experienced that were solved by the use of multiple biometric modalities? Please share your comments below.

biometric patient identification prevents duplicate medical recordsDavid Cuberos is an Enterprise Sales Consultant with RightPatient® helping hospitals and healthcare organizations realize the benefits of implementing biometrics for patient identification to; increase patient safety, eliminate duplicate medical records and overlays, and prevent medical identity theft and healthcare fraud.

mhealth requires strict patient identificaiton

UCLA Breach Reinforces Importance to Protect Patient PHI

mhealth requires strict patient identificaiton

The recent UCLA data breach is a strong reminder that healthcare organizations should consider the use of biometrics such as facial or voice recognition to protect patient PHI on mobile devices and patient portals.

It’s probably unfair to say that the recent UCLA Medical Center data breach that potentially exposed the personal health information (PHI) of 4.5 million patients was a wake up call for the healthcare industry to implement tighter data security protocols. In fact, it wasn’t a wake up call at all.

Healthcare data breaches have proliferated over the last five plus years, and the Health and Human Services (HHS) public “wall of shame” list of healthcare data breaches involving 500 or more individuals is…well….let’s just say a tad crowded. Since HHS began the list in 2009, 1,265 breaches exposing the records of nearly 135 million people have made the list. Ouch. The UCLA data breach isn’t groundbreaking news, it is simply another chapter in the long novel of healthcare data breaches that have placed millions of patients at risk by exposing their PHI and in some cases, social security numbers and personal demographic information. 

The UCLA breach also foreshadows rising demand for tighter security protocols to protect PHI from unauthorized access on patient portals, mobile devices, and other new touchpoints. This rise of additional patient touchpoints to access PHI has vaulted establishing tighter security controls into the spotlight beyond traditional means of authentication. History has shown that username/password-based security is inadequate on mobile devices, yet healthcare organizations continue to adopt technology that uses this method to authenticate patients. Considering the high stakes to protect patient PHI, the UCLA data breach wasn’t a wake up call – it moved the needle to protect patient PHI to Defcon 1. 

The HIPAA Privacy Rule mandates that healthcare organizations secure remote access to PHI data as a safeguard for patient privacy and to eliminate data breaches that can lead to fraud and medical identity theft. The introduction of touchpoints such as patient portals and mobile devices changes the dynamic of protecting patient PHI because it demands adopting strategies that include using modern patient identification systems yet many healthcare organizations continue to rely on antiquated security solutions.  

Healthcare organizations must now consider patient identification systems that can address accurate authentication at each and every touchpoint along the care continuum, far beyond simply implementing technology that covers patient ID at office visits. 

Implementing accurate patient identification when accessing PHI from mobile devices and patient portals must balance strong security with convenience and speed, which is why technologies such as facial and voice biometrics are gaining popularity. The use of biometrics to protect patient PHI is a smart investment, especially if healthcare organizations deploy a solution that offers the flexibility to be used during hospital/office visits and on each and every touchpoint a patient now has the ability to utilize as a means to access health data. Biometric patient identification solutions offer stronger security than user names and passwords and have proven to be more efficient and convenient by eliminating the need and frustration to remember multiple login credentials.

As we experience a sharp rise in patient driven interactions within the healthcare system that offer more avenues for criminals and hackers to access PHI, it is critical that healthcare organizations implement modern identification solutions that have the ability to better protect this information. Biometrics to protect patient PHI is quickly gaining attention as a security solution that can serve this need. Although it’s impossible to determine whether or not biometrics could have helped prevent hackers from obtaining access to protected patient PHI in the UCLA data breach, the use of this technology can help to offer a secure layer of protection that can deter hackers from even attempting to try.