voice biometrics in healthcare

Voice Assistants: New Technology in Healthcare

voice biometrics 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.

voice biometrics in healthcare

Voice biometrics is helping to improve patient engagement in healthcare.

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.

voice recognition is helping improve healthcare

The Future of Voice Recognition

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.

Kate 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.

patient ID in healthcare

Our Top Posts on Patient ID in 2016

patient ID in healthcare

We work hard throughout the year to help our community stay informed of the latest news and information on the state of patient identification in healthcare. Our perspective is that the future of patient ID is the patient photo, and with good reason. The ECRI recently recommended that healthcare organizations use more standard means of patient identification, which should include patient photos with their electronic health records (EHR). In addition, many prominent healthcare providers have already implemented patient photo capture initiatives, pointing out that capturing a photo increases patient safety and helps augment effective patient provider communication.

patient ID in healthcare

A look back at our most trafficked blog posts of 2016 and a few words on the state of patient ID in healthcare.

Understanding that accurate patient ID in healthcare affects so many more downstream activities and is widely considered to be the “big bang” of effective and safe patient care, the urgency for hospitals and healthcare organizations to adopt more secure patient identification technology has never been stronger.

Healthcare providers should take note however that not all biometric patient identification solutions are equipped to address the challenges and complexities of ensuring ID accuracy across the entire care continuum which now includes a multitude of new touchpoints such as connected health devices, patient portals, telemedicine, home health, and more. Investing in a patient identification solution that simply provides the ability to accurately identify an individual when they are physically present at a medical facility is now considered short-sighted. Healthcare providers should now consider adopting patient ID technology that is easily scalable, and has the flexibility to capture and store a patient’s photo for accurate identification during any encounter along the care continuum.

In 2016, we wrote extensively about the impact of accurate identification on patient safety including several posts that extrapolate on the imperatives of capturing photos as part of the ID process. We also covered how technology has changed healthcare provider patient ID protocols, the growth and impact on patient ID of iris recognition on smart devices, the characteristics and limitations of patient ID biometric hardware, and much more.

After crunching the numbers, what were our most popular blog posts for 2016? Here is the list:

  1. Identify Unconscious, Unknown Patients with Biometric Identification Technology – Written in May, 2015 this entry was our most trafficked post in 2016. Understanding how biometric technology works in real-life scenarios can help shed light on its true ability to identify unconscious patients as quickly as possible. 
  2. The Difference Between 1:N, 1:1, and 1:Few and Why it Matters in Patient ID – Did you know that there are different biometric matching types depending on the type of hardware modality you deploy for patient ID in healthcare? Written in 2015, this post examines three biometric matching types – one-to-many, one-to-one, and one-to-few – providing a side to side comparison of each matching type capabilities and limitations and providing a recommendation of the only matching type that can truly prevent duplicates and protect patient medical identities.
  3. Removing the word “scan” from iris recognition healthcare biometrics – Our extensive experience deploying iris recognition biometrics around the world helped us to understand and advocate that the word “scan” be removed from any discussion of this technology. Learn more about our viewpoint in this post from 2015.
  4. In Your Face: Future of Federated Patient ID – As we mentioned earlier in this post, the future of patient ID in healthcare is the distinct ability for a provider to capture and store a patient’s photo that can be used for accurate identification at any point along the care continuum. This post, and a subsequent follow up article by our friends at HealthStandards effectively illustrates not only the importance of capturing a patient’s photo at registration but how that photo can be used with facial recognition biometrics for accurate identification no matter where a patient seeks care or data access.
  5. Why telemedicine needs accurate patient ID – Following in the footsteps of our assertion that modern patient identification strategies should be holistic and enable the ability to accurately ID patients at any point along the care continuum, this post covers why we feel accurate patient ID is just as important for connected health and telemedicine as it is for in-person visits.

2016 is a wrap. We observed a few positive advancements to improve patient identification in healthcare, but overall we remain concerned that the topic is often skirted in favor of bolder, more splashy initiatives (e.g. – MACRA, Blockchain, interoperability) which always seem to garner more attention. No doubt that these are important initiatives in the healthcare industry but as we have said many times before — accurate patient identification in healthcare arguably should have been the first problem solved before we tackled these other projects. However, factors at play make it perhaps one of the most difficult and complex healthcare issues to solve from a logistical, political, economical, privacy, and health data exchange perspective.

What did you feel was the most important patient identification advancement (or regression) during 2016? Please leave us a comment!



Patient Identification in Healthcare: The Year in Review


2015 was another breakout year for the healthcare industry. From the transition to ICD-10 to advancements (or lack thereof) in interoperability to the expanding role of big data, 2015 demonstrated that healthcare continues to be in the throes of a major transition spearheaded by rapid digitization of the industry. While the jury is still out on exactly what type of lasting impact the events of 2015 will have, one area that stands out is the increased attention of establishing accurate patient identification.

There are simply too many downstream activities affected by accurate patient identification in healthcare to continue pushing the issue to the back burner of priorities, so we were quite pleased that 2015 seemed to be the year where the topic of accurate patient ID is finally getting the attention it deserves at the front of the line.


Did accurate patient identification in healthcare receive more attention in 2015?

Here is a recap of notable and influential patient identification news and events that we identified as the most impactful in 2015:

#1 – CHIME flexes its clout. Big time.

  • The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) issues national patient ID challenge: Few things get people excited about an initiative than monetary incentives. In March of 2015, CHIME issued a challenge to help discover the most innovative solution to patient matching. The incentive? 


Our take: CHIME’s national patient ID challenge is flat out smart. Dangling the financial carrot to the healthcare industry will surely spur innovative approaches to solving this issue and motivate health IT vendors to step up and address the challenge. Wholeheartedly backed by a coalition of influential organizations and individuals in healthcare, the challenge is poised to foster creative approaches to solving this dangerous and festering problem in healthcare.  

“We must first acknowledge that the lack of a consistent patient identification strategy is the most significant challenge inhibiting the safe and secure electronic exchange of health information. As our healthcare system begins to realize the innately transformational capabilities of health IT, moving toward nationwide health information exchange, this essential core functionality – consistency in accurately identifying patients – must be addressed. As data exchange increases among providers, patient data matching errors and mismatches will become exponentially more dangerous and costly.” (CHIME’s letter to Congress, May 7, 2014

Our take: CHIME’s letter to Congress could be a watershed moment to finally push accurate patient identification into the forefront of priorities for the healthcare industry. Since CHIME is a very influential organization that Captiol Hill pays attention to, their public push to move forward on finding a viable solution to accurate patient identification in healthcare could prove to be the tipping point to solve this serious issue. In addition, at a Congressional hearing in June, CHIME publicly stated in a hearing convened by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) that advancing accurate patient identification in healthcare will, “radically reduce medical errors and save lives.”

#2 – AHIMA adds their voice and influence to push for a patient identification solution

Our take: As more well established and influential healthcare organizations lend their voices to solving the patient identification issue, the odds of discovering a solution will precipitously increase. Long viewed as a conscientious problem with too many complexities to solve, many healthcare professionals are finally coming to the conclusion that patient identification in healthcare is a single catalyst that directly influences the success or failure of many other initiatives in the industry: interoperability, health information exchange, and mHealth to name a few. We are pleased that AHIMA is more openly wielding its impact as a respected and trusted organization on such a critical issue in healthcare.

#3 – FHIR is great, but will interoperability never work without a national identifier

“There’s people out there who think that with FHIR we’ve solved all the problems. We haven’t, because we’re not authorized to solve lots of the problems” (Graham Grieve on frustrations of the moratorium Congress enacted to block funding research on a national patient identifier:

Our take: Without sounding like a broken record or belaboring the point, for quite some time we have voiced concerns about advancing interoperability in healthcare without first addressing the need to establish accurate patient identification.  When you hear a quote like the one from Graham Grieve above from someone battling on the front lines of interoperability, it lends even more credence to the argument that it seems rather pointless and futile to continuing spending millions to advance interoperability in healthcare without having the ability to accurately identify patients in disparate health systems.

#4 – Biometric patient identification deployments continue to rise

  • More on this topic in next week’s post, but 2015 was a banner year for biometrics in healthcare. From single sign-on to access control to accurate patient identification, we observed a rapid increase in the deployment of biometrics at hospitals across the globe. Research firm Tractica forecasts that the nascent global healthcare biometrics market revenue will hit $3.5 billion in revenues by 2024, foreshadowing the tremendous potential of this technology and making it one of the most promising opportunities for the biometric industry.

What’s your take on the year on patient identification in healthcare? What moments or events stand out to you? Leave us a note in the comments section!

Next week: RightPatient® – The Year in Review — a short post of our major accomplishments during 2015. Stay tuned!

patient safety in healthcare

New Podcast Shines Spotlight on The Patient Safety Movement in Healthcare

patient safety in healthcare
patient safety in healthcare

We interviewed Jim Bialick, President of The Patient Safety Movement to discuss the topic of patient safety in healthcare.

Patient safety is a topic intertwined with so many policies and procedures in healthcare, many considering it to be the “cornerstone” to deliver quality care. After all, any healthcare organization can be equipped with the latest and most cutting edge care delivery technologies and staff with deep experience in healthcare delivery, but easily fail to recognize the impact on providing holistic patient safety, no matter where a patient falls along the continuum. 

Many organizations have materialized with the sole purpose of advancing patient safety in healthcare, but none perhaps more impactful or relevant than The Patient Safety Movement, a Foundation focused on collaborating and breaking down information silos that exist between hospitals, medical technology companies, the government, and other stakeholders that enourages the sharing of data that can identify at-risk patients before they’re in danger and provides specific, actionable solutions that healthcare professionals can implement today to help realize the goal of zero preventable deaths by the year 2020. 

We had the pleasure of interview Jim Bialick, President of the Patient Safety Movement for first hand insight on their goals and mission, information about their forthcoming Patient Safety Summit in January 2016. Plus, we had the chance to ask Jim his opinion on the use of biometrics for patient identification in healthcare, the state of patient data integrity in healthcare, and insight into the impact of duplicate medical records. Here is a list of questions covered during our podcast with Jim Bialick and The Patient Safety Movement: 

1. What can you tell us about The Patient Safety Movement mission and goals? What steps are you taking and what accomplishments have been realized since you began the movement?
2. I noticed that the Patient Safety Movement is sponsoring the “Patient Safety Movement Foundation Innovation Competition” to encourage advocates to submit innovations to advance the goal of zero preventable deaths by 2020. What can you tell us about the motivation behind creating this award and how you feel it will advance the patient safety initiative?
3. Talk to me for a minute about the upcoming Patient Safety, Science, and Technology Summit in January 2016. What is the significance of this event, why should people attend, and what one message do you hope attendees walk away with?
4. Improving and sustaining patient data integrity in healthcare has gained strong momentum due to its effect on the ability of clinicians to provide accurate, cost effective care to a patient. Due to the increase in patient touchpoints (portals, mHealth apps, kiosks, smartphones) from the rapid digitization of healthcare that provide new ways to access personal health information and receive services, what additional patient safety concerns have you worried that could potentially undermine patient data integrity?
5. It’s often said that accurate patient identification in healthcare is one of the key pillars of protecting patient safety throughout the care continuum. Considering the fact that many healthcare organizations still rely on outdated and ineffective patient matching methodologies, what new patient identification technologies do you see as promising to improve patient identification accuracy and patient data integrity?
6. The growth of biometrics for patient identification presents an opportunity for healthcare organizations to modernize authentication protocols to improve patient safety, eliminate duplicate medical records, and prevent medical identity theft and fraud at the point of service. We recently conducted a survey of 1,067 patients about infection control policies in healthcare and preferences regarding biometric technology and found that 70% prefer a non-contact device. Based on your experience, why do you think this is the case? If evaluating a contact dependent device for patient ID, what would providers need to consider in terms of hygiene and infection control? What are the patient safety risks of using a contact dependent vs. non-contact biometric modality (e.g. palm vein vs. iris recognition) for patient ID in healthcare from an infection control perspective?
7. In The Patient Safety Movement mission statement, you talk about “breaking down the silos” in healthcare. Can you please explain your interpretation of “breaking down the silos” and why do you feel this is an important component to advance the initiative? What distinct advantage does coalescing the fragmented and disparate entities in healthcare have to advance patient safety in healthcare?
8. Why are hospitals allowed to operate under the radar with issues such as duplicates and overlays that pose such a significant risk to patient safety? Who governs this and why isn’t such an industry-wide epidemic made more public so that patients and regulators are made aware? Should there be an industry level of transparency where it is mandated that a hospital’s exposure to such issues is made public, constantly monitored, penalized and regulated?

For a full version of the podcast, please click here

Our thanks to Jim for his time and wisdom on the topic of patient safety in healthcare! Follow The Patient Safety Movement on Twitterand please “like” their Facebook page

Have an idea for a podcast? Drop us an email at:! For a full list of our podcast library, please visit our podcast page.

Biometric Patient Identification CIO Testimonial Video

Biometric Patient Identification CIO Testimonial Video

Biometric Patient Identification CIO Testimonial Video

Like many who attended the 2015 HIMSS trade show in Chicago, we were excited (and a bit overwhelmed) at the amount of health IT knowledge and information swirling around the exhibit halls and aisle/booth conversations between attendees and vendors. One theme that we were excited to see is the continued surge of implementing biometrics for patient identification by many healthcare organizations that understand it’s value to help:

1. eliminate duplicate medical records
2. prevent healthcare fraud and medical identity theft at the point of service
3. Increase patient safety

testimonial on using iris biometrics for patient identification

Learn more about how our RightPatient biometric patient identification solution can help your healthcare organization through this firsthand testimonial from a hospital CIO.

Ever since the use of biometrics for patient identification arrived on the scene just a few short years ago, many hospitals are now reaping the dividends of this technology to achieve the aforementioned benefits and helping to add revenue back to the bottom line by cutting back on fraud and eliminating medical errors resulting from patient misidentification. The future of implementing biometrics for patient identification is bright, and increasing it’s luminosity as more hospitals and healthcare organizations learn about how the technology works to improve patient data integrity

We took a moment to sit down with the Healthcare Data Management team in their booth on the HIMSS trade show floor to participate in a video interview about our RightPatient® healthcare biometrics patient identification solution to help explain it’s advantages and unique qualities plus provide a firsthand testimonial from a hospital CIO who has implemented our platform using iris recognition. 


The interview includes firsthand testimonial from Lee Powe at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin, NC about how he originally deployed palm vein biometrics for patient ID, but quickly switched to the RightPatient solution using iris biometrics once he saw the advantages plus what results Hugh Chatham has realized since first deploying the technology including: reductions in duplicate medical records, elimination of Medicaid fraud, and a high level of patient acceptance.

Michael Trader from RightPatient is then interviewed to describe the iris biometric patient identification platform, what makes it unique, and why healthcare providers should consider implementation.

Thanks to the staff at Health Data Management for the opportunity to discuss what makes our biometric patient identification solution unique, and allow us to feature Lee’s testimonial on why he values the technology to help increase patient safety and reduce healthcare fraud at Hugh Chatham.

Removing the Word "Scan" from Iris Recognition for Healthcare Biometrics

Removing the Word “Scan” from Iris Recognition for Healthcare Biometrics

Removing the Word "Scan" from Iris Recognition for Healthcare Biometrics

Look no farther for a sensationalized depiction of biometric identification technology than the Tom Cruise movie “Minorty Report.”


Most people confuse iris recognition with retinal scanning that beams visible light into the eye to capture individual biometric credentials.

Packed with scenarios that stretch the truth on how biometric technology actually works, the movie has unfortunately become a rallying cry for those opposed to the technology as an example of just how invasive the technology is to our personal privacy. While there are arguments to be made on both sides on whether biometric identification technology is a privacy detractor or a privacy boost, one thing is true: In the real world, front end biometric hardware devices work much differently than what we see on the big screen or when flipping through the pages of a science fiction novel. Which brings us to the topic of iris recognition. 

When most people hear the words “iris recognition” they immediately confuse the technology with “retinal scanning,” a completely separate and totally different biometric modality. As our community already knows, iris recognition and retinal scanning are two completely different biometric modalities each operating under separate functional parameters and each using a different method of capturing individual biometric characteristics. Most people associate iris recognition with something that looks like this:

The picture above shows a retinal scanner beaming visible light into the human eye to read the unique physiological characteristics of the retina, located in the back of the eye. Despite it’s extremely high identification accuracy, retinal scanning is widely considered to be one of if not the most invasive biometric modality and an impractical technology for commercial use in high throughput environments. Conversely, iris recognition uses a sophisticated digital camera to capture your photograph, which maps unique data points of your iris (located in the front of the eye) and uses that information to create a unique identity template which is used on subsequent identification attempts and is also an extremely accurate . 

Iris recognition does not beam any visible light into your eyes, is 100% safe to use, and does not perform anything even close to a “scan” – it is simply a digital photograph (albeit much more sophisticated that pictures we take with our digital cameras and cell phones). Here, we see a patient at a hospital using an iris camera for identification – notice how there aren’t any lights or lasers beamed into their eyes during the photograph capture process:

Iris recognition cameras do not beam any lights or lasers into the human eye. They simply take a digital photograph.

Why is it important to know that iris recognition does not “scan” your eyes? Like it or not, the proliferance of biometric technology for individual identification is a reality that we all must come to terms with. In fact, if you have never participated in a biometric identification deployment, chances are at some point you will considering the rapid pace in which many industries are adopting the technology as a tool to increase security, create efficiencies, eliminate waste and fraud, and raise accountability and productivity. In healthcare, many hospitals and medical facilities have already deployed iris recognition biometrics for patient identification, and are expanding their deployments to provide the technology for accurate patient ID at each and every touchpoint along the care continuum.

In the healthcare industry specifically, understanding what to expect when you participate in a biometric identification deployment is a key factor in accepting the technology as a key tool to help stop medical identity and fraud at the point of service and to eliminate duplicate medical records which are a direct threat to your safety. So the next time you visit the hospital or a medical facility that has deployed iris biometrics for patient identification, you are now empowered with the information on how the front end technology works and can rest assured that you are not being “scanned” in any way, shape, or form. It’s a photograph, not a scan!

What other common misunderstandings about biometrics may cause you trepidation?