Hospital Prescriptions at a Finger’s Touch

The Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances rule was issued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as an amendment to the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, commonly known as the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). According to the rule, the doctor or pharmacist creating the prescription must authenticate with two of the following: “something you know (a knowledge factor), something you have (a hard token stored separately from the computer being accessed), and something you are (biometric information). The hard token, if used, must be a cryptographic device or a one-time-password device that meets Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 Security Level 1. For increased security, less complicated management and ease of doctor/pharmacist use, most health-care organizations prefer that one of the authentication factors be biometric.

Doctors and pharmacists in Ohio also have been required to use two-factor authentication when electronically prescribing controlled substances and, since June 2010, have followed the above DEA mandate for two-factor authentication for electronically prescribing controlled substances nationwide

Based in Zanesville, Ohio, Genesis HealthCare, a not-for-profit organization that operates two hospital sites — Genesis-Bethesda and Genesis-Good Samaritan — and several affiliated health-care organizations across a six-county region of southeastern Ohio, uses biometric identification software in conjunction with multispectral imaging fingerprint sensors so staff may quickly, conveniently and securely establish identity when ordering, verifying or administering medications as required by the Ohio law. Currently, 2,000 clinicians and staff at Genesis are using fingerprint biometrics, leveraging multispectral imaging sensors to establish their identity to order, verify or administer medications.

Because skin dryness is so prevalent in the health-care industry, due in part to constant hand washing, traditional fingerprint sensors can produce up to a 20% failure rate. In other situations, when the policy allows it, pharmacists wearing latex gloves do not want to remove them to use the biometric reader. Since the multispectral solution, based on using multiple wavelengths of light and advanced polarization techniques, can extract unique fingerprint characteristics from both the surface and subsurface of the skin, this provides results that are more consistent, inclusive and tamper resistant than other biometrics. Dirty, calloused, wet or dry, the fingerprint is still readable with multispectral imaging and Genesis Healthcare pharmacists can fill pharmaceutical requests quickly.

Bill Spence is Vice President of Sales – North America, Europe and Australia for Lumidigm. He can be reached at [email protected].

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