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Health news and issues in the Ozarks.

Biometric Technology to Increase Patient Safety at CoxHealth


CoxHealth is adding a new layer of security for patients.  It’s implementing palm vein scanning technology at its hospitals and clinics over the next few months.

Under the system, imprivata PatientSecure, A biometric palm vein scanner uses a near-infrared light wave to capture the vein pattern in a patient’s palm. The scan produces a unique biometric template that is a digital representation of the patient’s unique vein pattern, according to imprivata.

Jack Cole, administrative director of Information Technology at CoxHealth, said it removes the chance for human error.

"This will give us better than a million to one likelihood that we're going to get it exactly right.  It's a million to one just using the biometrics.  When you put the biometrics combined with your date of birth it increases its accuracy exponentially," he said.

He described the new palm vein scanning system as “kind of like a secret handshake between Cox and its patients.”

Cole said the system will prove especially useful for patients who share the same names and for patients brought into the ER unresponsive. 

According to Cole, CoxHealth is the first hospital in Missouri to use the technology, although around 500 hospitals use it nationwide.

The healthcare system will hold open enrollment fairs soon for patients, five years of age and older, to have their palms scanned.  Patients will also be able sign up at their physicians' offices. 

Enrollment is fee, and patients may opt out if they choose to do so.