The Future of Health Care Security and Patient Information

Tom Cruise's character in Minority Report using iris scanning technology. (Photo credit:

In the 2002 movie Minority Report, Tom Cruise’s character uses iris scanning technology. (Photo credit: Hollywood History Online)

You’ve seen it in the movies. Someone trying to get into a top-secret facility has their retina scanned to gain access.

It’s not as sci-fi as you might think.

Beaumont began a pilot program in December that uses photographs of the iris to positively identify patients. When a patient comes in for an appointment at one of the pilot locations, they’re asked if they’d like to participate. If the agree, a Patient Registration representative uses a special camera to take a photograph of the patient’s eyes. Those photographs are then tied to their information in their medical record. The next time they come in for an appointment, they simply have a photo of their eyes taken and their chart automatically pops up on the screen.

Since everyone has a different iris pattern, the photo is a unique identifier for the patient.

“This will be very beneficial, especially in the EC,” says Lou Anne Judd, director, Patient Registration, Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe. “Once a patient is in the database, the next time he comes in, we can scan the irises and it will positively ID that patient. It’s a great way for positive identification. In addition, when patients come to us with multiple aliases, it will pull up the same name. This will also help reduce identity theft and insurance fraud.”

The pilot is taking place at all three hospitals or affiliated off-campus buildings for 45 days. Registration will evaluate how patients react, how it affects workflow and more. The system could then be considered throughout the organization at key points.

“We’ve been explaining to patients that taking photos of the iris enhances safety and positive identification,” says Lou Anne. “The majority of the patients who are offered the opportunity are happy to participate. Using the irises to identify patients is another way we’re keeping our patients safe.”

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