College of American Pathologists
Printable Version






October 2009

Raymond D. Aller, MD
Hal Weiner

Keystroke biometrics: a tactile type of computer security Keystroke biometrics: a tactile type of computer security

Just as no two people have the same fingerprint, no two people type the same. And, taking this logic one step further, “No human beings type the same way twice,” says Bharat Nair, of Delfigo Security Corp.

Armed with this knowledge, Delfigo, a Boston-based start-up company that began operating last fall, has developed an artificial intelligence-based authentication platform for computer security. The software uses keystroke biometricsa process that allows a computer to register how each user types—and specific identity factors to determine if the person entering a computer password is legitimate.

The product, DSGateway, uses several mathematical algorithms that measure such metrics as how hard users press computer keys and how quickly they move from one key to another to determine if users are typing their own passwords.

People’s typing skills, muscle memory, and cognitive ability affect how they type, says Nair, vice president of product strategy and business development for Delfigo. As do the time of day, amount of caffeine they consume, and obvious changes, like whether the person has an injured finger. “The software’s mathematical algorithms take into account over a dozen identity factors to measure the probability that the person is who they say they are,” Nair says.

DSGateway also factors in the computer user’s geographical location. For example, a doctor typing her password at the desktop computer in her office rates a higher probability of authenticity than if she were on a laptop in a hotel lobby 3,000 miles away. But, Nair notes, the software can be configured to accept keystroke biometrics from multiple computing devices for the same individual.

DSGateway uses an algorithm that returns a numeric value, or confidence factor, which is a probability of the likelihood that the person attempting to access a computer is the authorized user. An institution can use the confidence factor to balance security with user convenience. For example, if a system returns a confidence factor of 93 percent, the user may have full access to the account or system. But if the system returns a confidence factor of only 45 percent, the user may be denied access. A confidence factor of 50 to 90 percent might provide read-only ac-cess to the account. “This is an example only,” stresses Nair. “The security thresholds can be configured based on internal risk mitigation policies and procedures.”

DSGateway, Nair continues, will benefit all areas of the hospital, including the laboratory. It eliminates the need for other forms of hardware-based authentication, such as one-time password tokens, or biometric authentication, such as fingerprints or retinal scans, he says.

The physical tokens can get lost, or doctors will leave them at the computer to keep themselves logged in while they step away to see a patient, says Steven Colan, MD, associate chief of cardiology at Children’s Hospital Boston. Children’s, which is testing DSGateway in its cardiology department, had considered various types of security products before settling on Delfigo’s system.

With DSGateway, Dr. Colan explains, if one person is logged in and then another person jumps on the computer to pull up a record, the software will register the change. A security system that relies on a fingerprint or retinal scan doesn’t have that second layer of security—once you’re logged in, you’re in, he says.

And relying solely on a password-based system is even more problematic, he continues, with medical personnel sharing passwords so they can check information and users writing down cryptic passwords and posting them by shared computers. Password-based systems have a “very intrusive log-in process that doesn’t work,” Dr. Colan says. “We were looking for something that would be more reliable and less intrusive.”

The cardiology department at Children’s started testing DSGateway in July by having five staff members use it for a single computer application. If the testing is a success, the department’s goal is to have its 150 staff members use the software across all of the department’s computer applications in the near future. The next step, says Dr. Colan, would be to equip the emergency room desktop computers with the product.

Several other hospitals are also interested in DSGateway, Nair says. The product, a Web-based software-as-a-service offering, costs $25,000 for startup fees, plus a dollar per user, per year. The software can also be implemented on site, instead of remotely.

The key to the success of DSGateway, says Nair, is that it answers three critical questions in real time: “Are you who you say you are? Where will I allow you to go? and What will I allow you to do? Those are our three marketing mantras.”

Health care firms join forces to promote digital pathology Health care firms join forces to promote digital pathology

Pathologists interested in digital pathology now have two more options for networking with colleagues and educating themselves about the discipline.


Pathologists can join, a nonprofit, vendor-neutral global online pathology community promoting digital pathology.

The new Internet site uses Web 2.0 features to promote the exchange of pathology cases, information, products, and services. Users can select information and cases, using any platform, to share with user-defined subgroups. They can also browse interesting cases from around the world, create an online case gallery, share cases and slides with colleagues, search a global knowledge base, learn about the latest advances in the digital pathology field, and obtain expert opinions about their cases.

PathXchange will scan glass slides and upload the images at no charge.

The Web site, which is offering complimentary memberships, is sponsored by BioImagene, in partnership with Aurora MSC, IPath Diagnostics, and Visuvi.

Digital Pathology Association

A group of health care companies have formed the Digital Pathology Association, an advocacy group intended to boost the adoption of digital pathology applications.

Members are encouraged to share best practices and promote the use of digital technology among colleagues by demonstrating the value of the application for reducing laboratory expenses, enhancing productivity, and improving operational efficiency, treatment decisions, and pa-tient care.

Founders of the association include Aperio, BioImagene, Omnyx, Olympus, and Premier Laboratory.

The association is accepting memberships for 2009–2010. Benefits include access to workshops and seminars, as well as a registration discount for the Pathology Visions conference. Additional information is available at

Sunquest to collaborate with MGH, Partners HealthCare Sunquest to collaborate with MGH, Partners HealthCare

Sunquest Information Systems is partnering with Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston-based Partners HealthCare System to develop next-generation anatomic and clinical pathology-based laboratory information systems.

Under the agreement, the three entities will jointly develop, distribute, and implement software designed to provide efficient and flexible work, specimen, and information flow; support advanced diagnostic and management methodologies; and accelerate the real-world practice of personalized and predictive medicine in pathology.

“Technologies that support the vision of a fully automated pathology department, such as advanced sample management, digital image generation, and pattern recognition, are advancing rapidly,” says Richard Atkin, president and CEO of Sunquest. “This relationship fully leverages the complementary strengths of Sunquest’s extensive knowledge of clinical laboratory and diagnostic information solutions with MGH’s and Partners HealthCare’s superior clinical experience and leading-edge research. Together our organizations are committed to co-developing new solutions that will significantly impact not only the discipline of pathology but also the development of the information systems that support the practitioners and their patients.”

New cytogenetics module for Novovision AP system New cytogenetics module for Novovision AP system

Novovision has released a dedicated cytogenetics module for its NovoPath anatomic pathology platform.

The module integrates full-featured, customizable chromosome karyotyping and fluorescence in situ hybridization workflow into NovoPath. It offers specialized accession and resulting fields and a built-in selection of probes and customizable reports, as well as unlimited analysis set-up options. In addition, users can choose specific probes manually or automatically based on test type.


Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System has contracted with Apollo PACS for the company’s picture archiving and communication system. Henry Ford will use Apollo’s PathPACS product to implement its anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, and outreach services.

Mediware Information Systems has licensed its OrderTrak online blood ordering software to Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati. Hoxworth serves 32 hospitals and medical centers across Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.

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