San Diego-based CareFusion has been putting fingerprint scanners in its medication cabinets since 1999 and in 2001 the company made it a standard in all its Pyxis medication dispensing units.
But over the past seven years the company was noticing problems with the fingerprint scanners it was using, says Scott Bostick, senior vice president and general manger of medical dispensing at CareFusion. “Almost up to 80% of the time the nurses and pharmacists were successful using biometrics to access Pyxis,” he says. “But that left a gap 15% to 20% of the time in security and this wasn’t acceptable performance for us.”
The medication cabinets are used by nurses and pharmacists to obtain controlled medication for patients. Staff enter an ID, what medication they’re looking for, what patients it’s for and are then authenticated using the fingerprint scanner. The scanners wouldn’t always work properly and then staff would have to find workaround the obtain the medication, which would impact security. CareFusion has 200,000 of the cabinets deployed around the world.
One of the challenges with biometrics in health care are environmental factors. Labs can be very dry and cold which don’t lead to ideal situations for fingerprint scanners, Bostick says.
CareFusion went looking for a more reliable fingerprint scanner and found Lumidigm Inc. The Albuquerque, N.M.-based company has a multi-spectral biometric scanner that is able to get a high-quality fingerprint scanner regardless of the environment of quality of the fingerprint.
The Lumidigm scanners were first deployed in medication cabinets at a hospital in Houston and has already seen improved performance, Bostick says. Staff that didn’t enroll in the biometric system previously because of problems have reenrolled and are using them now. “The nurses love it because it’s really fast,” he says. “We’re seeing a lot of improved performance.”