College of American Pathologists
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February 2009

Raymond D. Aller, MD
Hal Weiner

Hospital finds palm vein ID a handy security tool Hospital finds palm vein ID a handy security tool

Patients at BayCare Health System now get their palms read. And the palm reader completes the assessment in less than a second and with extreme accuracy. On top of that, the reader conveys no bad news—that is, if you’re who you claim to be.

And that, more or less, is why BayCare Health System, Clearwater, Fla., recently adopted Patient Secure Identity, a biometric patient-registration system based on palm vein identification.

“Patients have told us they’re uncomfortable giving their social security number and demographic information each time they come to one of our facilities,” says Jim Schwamb, vice president of financial services at BayCare. “They worry about medical identity theft. Also, there are situations where people have one name on a driver’s license, another on other documents, and wanted to give us a third name.” Patient Secure Identity solves such issues.

The product, manufactured under the name PalmSecure by Fujitsu Computer Products of America, Sunnyvale, Calif., uses near-infrared light to map the unique vein patterns of registrants’ hands. Palm vein identification provides better biometric identification than handprints and fingerprints, which “pick up cuts or skin abrasions,” says Hiroko Naito, health care business development manager for the new products group at Fujitsu. “Unlike handprint or fingerprint biometrics that take a picture of the surface of your hand, our technology looks at information that resides inside your hand,” she explains.

Hospital patients use the technology by placing a palm a few centimeters above a scanner, which captures a digital image of blood flowing through veins. “All you have to do is hold your hand over a sensor for less than a second,” says Naito. The image appears as a black pattern on a light background and then converts to a vein template, a biometric identifier that corresponds to a patient’s medical record. Therefore, patients need only present personal identification, such as a driver’s license, insurance card, or SSN, for initial registration.

“If someone comes in and tries to use someone else’s name and/or social security number and puts their palm down, the system rejects them,” Schwamb says.

Patient Secure Identity also eliminates inconsistent medical records, says Schwamb, recounting how BayCare’s former registration system created duplicate medical records with discrepant information.

“In the old days,” he explains, “the system used an algorithm to identify patients and would say there’s a 70 percent chance that the two medical records for Mary Jones are the same. The address might be wrong, but the SSN might be the same. We might not feel safe assuming it was the same person, so we’d start a new record. When we start a new medical record, the information from the existing record doesn’t come forward until someone merges it.”

The technology also helps identify confused or unconscious patients at admission, reports Fujitsu, by rapidly linking the biometric data generated at admission with an electronic medical record if the patient has been seen at the facility in the past. The device has a false-rejection rate of 0.01 percent and a false-acceptance rate of less than 0.00008 percent, according to company data.

Before turning to patient vein identification, Schwamb says, BayCare officials considered other patient identification options, including smartcards, which they eliminated “because of low carry rates,” and biometric finger­print technology, which they eliminated “because there are a number of patients without readable fingerprints. Fingerprints bring an air of law enforcement,” he adds.

“We also considered optical technology, but patients felt nervous having their eyes read,” Schwamb says. Naito concurs. “A lot of customers don’t want to expose their eyes to an unknown light,” she says. “No matter how much a vendor explains that the technology is safe, they’re still uncomfortable.”

Three hospitals have installed Fujitsu’s PalmSecure system, says Naito, who envisions the technology eventually being applied to restricted areas in hospitals, such as the laboratory.

Patient Secure Identity has a near-100 percent compliance rate at BayCare, says Schwamb. “Very few patients refuse to use the system.” Those that do can be admitted by providing the standard personal information.

“Our patients have been very excited about this implementation,” he adds. “They say it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.”

Sunquest purchases Outreach Advantage Sunquest purchases Outreach Advantage

Sunquest Information Systems has acquired Pathology Associates Medical Laboratories’ Outreach Advantage solution suite. The acquisition complements Sunquest’s best-of-suite laboratory information systems business.

Under terms of the agreement, Sunquest has granted PAML a license to use the Outreach Advantage suite for its current and future joint ventures and for its affiliates. PAML will refer to the suite as Joint Venture Advantage to distinguish it from the commercially available Sunquest Outreach Advantage.

The Outreach Advantage suite provides customer relationship management tools, sales and marketing business intelligence, mobile courier management, and connectivity tools for integrating with electronic medical records, LISs, and other enterprise systems.

Novo Innovations and Medicity merge Novo Innovations and Medicity merge

The health care data exchange companies Medicity and Novo Innovations have announced their merger.

“Together, we will be able to offer a unique approach that allows health care organizations to individually meet their information outreach needs by providing streamlined access to health care data information, secure distribution of that data to EMRs, and full participation in community information-sharing initiatives,” says Robert Connely, CEO of Novo Innovations.

The new company will be known as Medicity and will maintain its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, with offices throughout the United States. Novo’s Alpharetta, Ga.-based facility will also continue operations.

Hosted software for document imaging and management Hosted software for document imaging and management

Cabinet NG is marketing CNG-Online, a software-as-a-service version of its CNG-Safe document imaging and management software.

CNG-Online, a subscription-based service that the vendor or customer can host, is geared toward smaller institutions and does not require a large initial investment or that a facility have in-house information technology staff.

The service’s base configuration includes a repository, two filing cabinets, 5 GB storage, backup, training, up to 10 document-naming templates, and user rights assignments. Six- and 12-month subscriptions are available.

Free online registry of medical interpreters Free online registry of medical interpreters

Language Line University has unveiled its International Registry of Certified Medical Interpreters at

The comprehensive, global, online resource identifies professional medical interpreters and lists their language skills and credentials.

The free registry is funded by a grant through Language Line University, an interpreter testing, training, and certification division of Language Line Services.

Web site focuses on health care reform Web site focuses on health care reform

B2B Knowledge Source has launched the Web site to address numerous facets of health care reform. The site features the white paper “The U.S. Healthcare System,” which delves into the reasons for the high cost of health care in the United States.

The site also allows users to post health care proposals for peer review and comment and provides a variety of forum groups, including “White Board,” “Academia Research,” and “Regulation and Policy,” which allow users to upload documents for peer brainstorming, review, and comment.

Impac synoptic reporting tool receives CCO certification Impac synoptic reporting tool receives CCO certification

Impac Software’s PowerPath synoptic reporting tool, version 9.2.5 and higher, has received certification from Cancer Care Ontario.

The certification authorizes the company to assist hospitals in Ontario, Canada, with meeting CCO’s 2008–2009 College of American Pathologists/Collaborative Staging aligned data standards for pathology reporting.


Healthland has announced that it will install its electronic medical records system at Scotland County Hospital, Memphis, Mo.

Global Med Technologies’ Wynd­gate Technologies subsidiary has licensed its Safe Trace Tx transfusion management software to Good Samaritan Hospital, Vincennes, Ind. The hospital has also contracted with Global Med’s PeopleMed subsidiary to validate its software.

Axolotl Corp. has been selected to supply technology and services to power the Utah Health Information Network’s clinical information exchange network. The exchange network is a statewide initiative that allows clinicians to electronically locate, connect to, and review, in an integrated manner, patient information scattered across multiple health care organizations.

Mission (Tex.) Regional Medical Center has contracted with IntelliDot for the IntelliDot Phlebotomy Specimen Collection system.

Dr. Aller is director of automated disease surveillance and team lead for disaster preparedness Focus B, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. He can be reached at Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at