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Blog: bringing a biometric future to the NHS - today

Shauntal Windsor 10.03.17

Dr Saif Abed from our Gold sponsor Imprivata writes about the impact biometric patient ID could have on the NHS

Trusts don’t need to wait five years to benefit, this technology is here now

Much has been said about the digital vision for the NHS with the predominant focus being the transition from paper to digital records and the opportunities this offers in terms of integrated care and interoperability. For this to succeed though these solutions have to support clinical engagement and optimise clinical workflows. With this in mind, one technology that is worth discussing is the role that biometric identification could play.

Digital Identity

In a digital NHS the biometric patient ID could be a key enabler for clinical workflow and interoperability. Providing each patient with a digital identity could smooth workflow processes, for example, when a patient presents to a GP surgery or outpatient clinic for treatment or a check-up, registration is quicker and easier for both the patient and administration staff. While fingerprint and iris scans are now relatively commonplace for security purposes, which for some patients could be off putting, there are alternatives such as palm vein scans, which have a high acceptance rate, are less intrusive.

Streamlining clinical workflow

A digital identity in time could be seen as a passport that allows patients’ records to be accessed by clinicians within any setting unrestricted by geography or local IT applications. The patient would essentially take their digital record with them wherever and whenever they need to engage with NHS services, which could be particularly useful for vulnerable patients with complex or chronic conditions that stretch across a local health ecosystem. The technology exists already, and although relatively new to the NHS has been proven in overseas markets.

Enabling integrated care

As mentioned already digital IDs will help to support the holistic health eco system that covers every patient touch point ranging from social and community care through to mental health services and acute care, enabling people to move through the system seamlessly.  The access to the full patient record for all areas of the care system will help to break down silos of information and make it easier to provide the system of integrated care that we are all aspiring towards.

As areas have now submitted their Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) and Local Digital Roadmaps (LDRs), biometrics could form a cornerstone when it comes to delivering integrated health and social care services, and when it comes to the broader aim of improving population health and well-being. The technology is proven, by and large the public are happy to use it, and it provides clinicians with that most valuable resource, more time to focus on their patients with the correct information at their fingertips.

Find out more about Imprivata by visiting their stand (250) at UK e-Health Week 2017. 

Dr Saif Abed is EMEA Medical Director at Imprivata

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