A Healthy Future for Biometrics

A Healthy Future for Biometrics

It’s no secret that the National Health Service is facing huge challenges. An ageing population and chronic under-funding has created an urgent need to find innovative approaches to making our healthcare system more cost-effective and efficient. In response, the Government’s new 5-year NHS funding plan puts improving and integrating services at the heart of healthcare reform, with an emphasis on the digitisation of services.
With fast, easily integrated, reliable technology playing a key role in driving the future of the NHS, biometric solutions are front and centre.

Improving Security and Efficiency in the NHS

Biometric systems such as fingerprint identification have been commonly used in healthcare settings for some time, but advances in the field mean NHS Trusts have been looking to a wider variety of biometric solutions.
The recent introduction of tech giant Apple’s Face ID system for iPhones signals a huge shift towards face recognition as a means of authentication. An advanced face recognition system like QikDETEKT has huge potential to support NHS improvement and integration plans. Enrolling staff and patients onto a system that intricately maps the unique geometry of an individual’s face, would facilitate the instant authentication of a person’s identity across all healthcare services. Practical applications include:

  • Patient safety – a clear, reliable means of identification ensures the right person gets the right treatment. It also protects the patient’s physical environment. Automatically restricting public entry to sensitive areas like intensive care units, maternity wards, secure units or children’s wards, without staff having to police access and egress, improves both security and efficiency. Alerting staff in real-time to the movement of vulnerable patients could also help protect those at risk.
  • Staff protection – research by the Health Service Journal and Unison show that in 2016-17, hospital trusts recorded 56,435 physical assaults on NHS staff, almost 10% higher than the previous year. Having a security system that instantly identifies and alerts to patients who have previously assaulted staff, gives medics and security personnel a chance to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and other patients.
  • Staff efficiency –seamless movement throughout a hospital environment saves time. Instant access to authorised areas, without having to use passes or disturb busy colleagues, gives medical staff more opportunity to deal with patients and could facilitate a quicker response in time-critical medical emergencies.
  • Security and accountability – facial recognition can be used as a stand-alone security measure in place of more fallible forms of identification (like ID passes or codes) that can be lost, stolen or borrowed. In an environment with dangerous medications, sensitive areas and valuable equipment, having a security system that automatically allows or restricts access to specific individuals improves both security and accountability. It’s also increasingly used to provide the extra layer of security in two-factor authentication.

It remains to be seen what direction NHS reforms will take, but with extra funding now in place and a clear focus on digital integration, biometric systems are sure to play a central role.
If you’d like more information on how QikDETEKT facial recognition technology could help improve healthcare services, or would like to enquire about its applications across other sectors, contact our experts.

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