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emPower eLearning: Employing Biometrics to Ensure HIPAA Compliance

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Employing Biometrics to Ensure HIPAA Compliance

It is necessary for health service provider to place safeguards in system to protect the privacy of patient health information. A authentication system forms the first line of defense for the computer network and it is responsibility of the service provider to make it impenetrable to unauthorized access. Biometrics technology offers a great solution to this problem. Biometrics works on the principal of using the physical and behavioral characteristics of the individual user to create a unique identification code which he or she can always carry and use, as and when needed. This is in line with HIPAA compliance norms. The common physical characteristics that are used by biometrics technology to develop a user authentication system are:

  • Fingerprints- Every human being, including twins have different fingerprint patterns and this is used to verify the user. Every user has a unique fingerprint and this is most reliable and tested method used in biometric access.
  • Hand Geometry- The shape and the patterns on the hands are used to create a unique identification for individual users.
  • Retina- This type of recognition technique analyses the layer of blood vessels situated at the back of eye. This is non-contact type of access system where the user has to look into a receptacle which has a camera that scans his or her retina and matches it against the stored data in the system.
  • Iris- The colored ring around the pupil is used as a verification mark because every human being has a unique iris.
  • Facial Scan- Digital camera is used to create a digitized facial image of the user and stored in the database. The stored image is then matched with that of user at time of access.
The behavioral characteristics that are used effectively in biometric authentication systems are:
  • Signature- The characteristics like speed, pressure and speed and shape of the signature are stored against the individual record in digital form. This data is matched against the user whenever he or she accesses the system.
  • Voice Recognition- The voice of the individual is used to create a voice print. This voice print or pattern is unique in nature and is used to identify the individual user.
  • Keystroke Pattern- The keystroke pattern of the one user varies from the other. The dynamics of the keystroke of individual is stored and matched when he or she types into the system.
The biometric identification of the individual user cannot be copied and thus provides highest level of defense against hostile intrusion. But as the data needs to be stored somewhere in central pool it can be tampered with by virus or hacker. The solution to this problem is to incorporate individual biometric characteristics into the smart card. The card remains with user and the data in it can be fed to the host network through a card reader. This type of arrangement makes it easy to protect the personal identity and health data patient as it is no longer stored on the host computer. This completely eliminates the possibility of hostile access. A combination of biometric techniques like fingerprint and voice print can create an impenetrable wall for the hostile intruder and this is completely in line with the HIPAA compliance norms.

Biometric Identification provides an impenetrable defense against hostile intrusion.

Jason Gaya

Read more on HIPAA compliance at, www.empowerbpo.com



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