The Difference between the Iris and the Retina and Why It’s Important In Biometric Identification

Importance of the differences between iris and retina biometrics

Iris recognition is a widely adapted biometric modality for use in border control, national ID, and (shown here) patient identification in healthcare

Iris recognition and retinal scanning are both very reliable modalities for biometric identification. However, both possess different characteristics that have a strong impact on their performance based on the environment and deployment purpose. Both biometric modalities use contactless scanners, but there are notable differences between iris recognition and retinal scanning; one being that iris recognition is considered non-invasive, and retinal scanning as invasive because it beams visible light into the eyes during the scanning process.

These biometric identification technologies are often misunderstood and incorrectly assumed to be one in the same despite their distinct differences. In this post, we will discuss the differences between iris recognition and retinal scanning.

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Iris Scanners and Recognition: A Biometric Identification Technique for Airport Security Systems

iris biometrics for airport security

Iris recognition for airport security is becoming more prevalent around the globe.

This informative post is brought to you by ADAGOLD, an Australian-based Global Aviation specialist that has been providing market leading aircraft charter solutions.

Iris scanners are used to detect recognition of an individual’s identity by analyzing the random patterns that visibly appear inside a person’s iris from a certain distance. The technology combines optics, statistical conclusions, pattern recognition, and computer vision.

Among virtually every scanner and biometric device that’s available today, it’s agreed that iris recognition technology is by far the most accurate. The technique itself is relatively new, only in existence since 1994.
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Iris Biometrics for Patient Identification Deployment Indicates Growing Interest in Technology

RightPatient is a biometric patient identification system

Stuart, FL. based Martin Health System recently implemented RightPatient™ using iris biometrics for patient identification

Yesterday, over on our corporate Web site we announced that Stuart, FL based Martin Health System has adopted RightPatient™ iris biometrics for patient identification. Significant for many reasons, Martin Health is yet another example of a major healthcare system choosing iris biometrics over other modalities (fingerprint, palm vein) to accurately identify patients as a means of:

  • increasing patient safety
  • eliminating new duplicate medical records and overlays
  • preventing healthcare fraud and medical identity theft at the point of service
  • streamlining patient registration
  • enhancing patient privacy
  • reducing risk

Carol Plato, assistant vice president of revenue cycle management at Martin Health Systems summed up their decision to invest in iris biometrics for patient identification by saying:

“The risks associated with misidentification jeopardize patient safety, so we wanted a solution that would mitigate these risks and add another layer of protection. RightPatient™ was a perfect fit for us because it doesn’t require physical contact, seamlessly communicates with our electronic health records software, and runs flawlessly over Citrix. Patients simply have their photo captured, the system matches their iris templates, and their medical record is automatically retrieved.”

For hospitals that deploy their electronic health record (EHR) systems over Citrix, RightPatient™ allows you to utilize a biometric device at the local PC and seamlessly interface with your EHR, even if it’s hosted centrally. Yet another compelling feature of the RightPatient™ software worth mentioning!

We are proud to be working with the staff at Martin Health Systems on this deployment and encourage you to learn more about RightPatient™ and all of our other biometric solutions for healthcare including single sign-on and a PC-based biometric time and attendance system over at the M2SYS Healthcare Solutions Web site.


Iris Biometrics for Patient Identification Making an Impact in Ghana

iris biometrics for patient identification in Ghana

Dr. Gabriella Nanci leads The Yonkofa Project which aims to help the people of rural Ghana have access to healthcare.

If you don’t know who Dr. Gabriella Nanci is, you may want to stop and take a moment to read about her mission to make healthcare more accessible for rural Ghanians through The Yonkofa ProjectEstablished in 2010, The Yonkofa Project was conceived to help bring sustainable healthcare to the remote areas of Ghana through two important elements:

1. Employment and permanent housing for healthcare providers, giving them the opportunity to serve in their own country and in their own villages.

2. A permanent clinic building with modern equipment which will provide patients with preventive medicine, vaccinations, and prenatal care; all things that are impossible with temporary clinics.

Dr. Nanci’s passion for improving the quality of life for rural Ghanians by building local clinics and staffing them with full time healthcare providers drove her to seek breakthrough but affordable technologies that would help to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of her efforts. One key area that Dr. Nanci identified as critical to the success of her mission was deploying a modernized patient identification system to help establish permanent medical records and create a concrete and accurate history of medical care. She investigated several patient identification solutions on the market and settled on RightPatient™ – our iris biometrics for patient identification solution – to identify patients treated at her clinics.

Since the inception of her project, Dr. Nanci enrolls hundreds of patients per day, quickly building her database to thousands of records, with the ability to instantly pull up a medical record after a fast biometric iris scan. Plus, we provided Dr. Nanci with the ability to quickly scale up her deployment to continue enrolling patients without any delays in quick, accurate patient identification results.

As part of her efforts, Dr. Nanci and her team have recently released a video detailing their efforts, highlighting use of the RightPatient™ iris biometrics for patient identification solution. Here is a link to the video – – please take a moment to watch and learn more about Dr. Nanci’s efforts and the power of iris biometrics for patient identification.

We were pleased to see a video encapsulating The Yonkofa Project’s efforts and the strategy they are employing to circumvent some of the common problems associated with launching this kind of effort despite the inadequacies of third world infrastructure. We proudly support her mission and are happy to be a part of the solution!


How M2SYS Healthcare Solutions is Contributing to the Health IT Movement

Iris biometrics for patient identification is one way health IT technology is helping to change the industry

#NHITWeek celebrates health IT technology and it’s impant on the industry

If you work in the healthcare industry, it should come as no surprise that we are in the throes of a massive sea change in care delivery models. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 set the wheels in motion for titanic changes in the expansion and adoption of health information technology and since then, a large majority of healthcare providers around the country have successfully implemented or updated their electronic health record systems.

As the proliferation of electronic health record systems, health information exchanges (HIEs), and integrated delivery networks (IDNs) continues, it’s surprising that little to no progress has been made on the sticky subject of establishing a national patient identifier (NPI) to promote interoperability and reduce errors related to mismatches between health data and patients. There are however, substantial concerns about establishing this type of identifier, most notably the privacy fears that it would be too easy to steal personal health information if there were universal ID numbers.

Unfortunately, as progress on legislation establishing a more concrete way to identify patients languishes in Congress, between 8 and 14% of medical records include erroneous information tied to an incorrect patient identity, costing hundreds of millions of dollars per year to correct and resulting in serious risk to patient safety. In addition, with the numerous benefits of EHRs and HIE also come potential opportunities for patient-data mismatches. After all, patient mismatches, which already occur at a significant rate within individual institutions and systems, will significantly increase when entities communicate among each other via HIE —a Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirement — that may be using different systems, different matching algorithms, and different data dictionaries. Collaborative care is certainly making the problem of accurate patient identification worse.

This shifts the burden of implementing patient identification technology to individual healthcare systems which could hamper the exchange of healthcare data with other institutions posing serious challenges for healthcare infrastructure. HIEs are facing issues when trying to piece together patient IDs from multiple providers forcing them to rely on algorithms that match and merge patient data from multiple medical records. The problem is, these algorithms and the matching process is cumbersome and exposed to errors with even the most sophisticated of algorithm matches prone to mistakes resulting from typos or common surnames.

In the absence of a NPI, more and more hospitals and healthcare providers are turning to alternative patient identification technologies to help eliminate duplicate medical records, overlays, and other mis-matching errors that jeopardize patient safety. One of the technologies rapidly adopted by the healthcare industry is the use of biometrics for patient identification.

Through our RightPatient™ iris biometric patient identification system, we are successfully helping hospitals and healthcare facilities increase patient safety by instantly retrieving a patient’s medical record following a fast biometric scan. This helps the industry establish a concrete identity for each patient and link that identity to an individual electronic health record enabling healthcare organizations to prevent duplicate medical records and eliminate fraud while improving patient safety systems.

We add value to the equation by suggesting that healthcare facilities consider adopting iris biometrics as their hardware modality for patient ID not only because it is non-invasive and requires no contact with a device by a patient (supporting hospital infection control), but also because iris biometric data is compliant with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standardization and has been extensively tested and certified as generic, shared data across disparate networks. This bodes well for healthcare facilities looking to establish “patient identity integrity” upon admission and during a patient’s stay as the cornerstone of efforts to maintain reliable and authentic data throughout the networks they establish or join. Biometrics can play a key role in helping to ensure the transfer of clean patient data by preventing the creation of duplicate medical records. As more regions, communities and hospital systems participate in health information exchange, biometric data can also be shared for the benefit of patients and providers.

We expanded the efficiency and effectiveness of our iris biometric patient identification software by capturing a patient’s photo and linking that to their electronic medical record as a means of multi-factor authentication for hospital staff. Plus, we offer a mobile solution that allows caregivers to authenticate a patient’s identity bedside, during home health, in the ER or any any point along the care continuum to ensure the right care is delivered to the right patient.

We also offer a back end data analytics module within the RightPatient™ system to help monitor system performance and user activity. Through a user-friendly, web-based interface, healthcare administrators have access to the real-time data that they need to analyze system usage, track pattern flow, troubleshoot, establish a concrete patient activity audit trail, and potentially reallocate resources based on results.

We are passionate about our role in the healthcare industry as stewards of effective patient identification technology to help increase patient safety, eliminate fraud and medical identity theft at the point of service, and reduce errors and proud to be a part of the health IT movement.

Iris Biometrics to Replace Magnetic Stripe College Student ID Cards

iris biometrics are used to replace magnetic stripe ID cards, PINS and passwords

Iris biometrics are an increasingly popular biometric modality to replace magnetic stripe ID cards, PINS, and passwords.

We’ve seen it happen again and again in the identification industry. More employers and educational institutions are adopting biometric identification technology to replace antiquated mag stripe ID cards, PINS, and passwords which are susceptible to being swapped or stolen, and incur an expense if they need to be replaced or reset.

The latest story comes to us from Winthrop University who has embarked on a project to, “replace existing identification cards issued with magnetic stripes” with iris biometrics which requires only a quick scan to grant access to a building or room. University officials were inspired to investigate using iris biometrics after seeing a local school using the technology to authorize parents picking up their kids from day care.

In addition, University officials opted not to use biometric fingerprint technology, which requires physical contact with a hardware device leaving open the possibility of spreading germs and illness. Iris biometrics is well known in the industry as a clean, hygienic biometric modality that does not require any physical contact to scan and read an individual. This is a very important characteristic to recognize for iris biometrics, particularly in environments where germs and illness are easily spread such as health care.

It’s also important to note that although iris biometrics readers are more expensive than magnetic stripe readers, the return on investment over the long term is higher when you factor in the expense of producing and replacing mag stripe cards, plus the expenses and risks incurred due to fraud and waste from swapping and sharing these cards. Not to mention the proven accuracy of iris biometrics, where the chances of two irides being the same are 10⁷⁸.

If you are investigating using biometrics for identificaiton to replace mag stripe cards, PINS, or passwords, take the time to learn more about iris biometrics as a viable modality for your next deployment.

What other advantages do you feel that iris biometrics offers?


Iris Biometrics Helping to Prevent Fraud in Healthcare

iris biometrics for patient identification helps to prevent fraud in healthcare

An article on using iris biometrics to prevent healthcare fraud was recently published by The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

Thank you to our friends over at the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud for allowing our Founder/CEO Mizan Rahman the opportunity to write this article on how iris biometrics are helping to shift the battle against fraud in healthcare to prevention rather than chasing.

Considering the fact that current healthcare spending in the U.S. is growing at approximately 1.5 times the GDP growth rate and will soon constitute 20% of the overall economy, coupled with the fact that healthcare fraud and waste is estimated to cost somewhere between $70 to $255 billion per year, concrete solutions are needed.

The article examines the detrimental effect that fraud and waste has on the healthcare industry and how a shift to more preventative strategies before services are rendered and claims are submitted is a way to attack the core problem.

The use of iris biometrics for patient identification is already paying dividends in the healthcare industry and conservative estimates say that it can help cut down on fraud, quantified by these statistics:

  • Cost of fraud per patient visit: $78;
  • Percentage of patient ID fraud: 5 percent; and
  • Cost of patient ID fraud per visit: $3.90.

Thank you again to our friends at the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud for the opportunity to write about the impact that iris biometrics is having in the ongoing fight to prevent fraud and waste in healthcare.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit us in Booth #219 at this Week’s NAHAM Patient Access Trade Show & Conference

come see M2SYS at the 39th annual NAHAM show in Atlanta and get a free demo of their RightPatient iris biometrics patient identification solution

The 39th annual NAHAM trade show and conference is May 16 – 18 at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta.

May is always an exciting time of the year for us here at M2SYS because the National Association of Healthcare Access Management’s (NAHAM) annual symposium and trade show falls during the month. And to top it off, this year’s conference is in our hometown of Atlanta!

If you aren’t familiar with NAHAM, here is a brief synopsis of who they are from their Web site:

“The National Association of Healthcare Access Management is the leading resource in Patient Access Services.

We establish best practices and subject matter expertise; provide an array of networking, education, and certification opportunities; and enable our members to influence and promote high quality delivery of Patient Access Services.

Patient access services professionals provide quality services in registration and all of its support processes to patients, providers and payors into, through and out of their health care experience.”

The annual conference theme this year is: “Leading the Way: A Brave New World of Patient Access” and promises to be one of the best shows yet as the NAHAM staff has assembled an impressive agenda and speakers to talk about current topics in patient access management.

So, why should you stop and see us this year at the show? Here are the top 5 reasons:

1. Solution demos – Here at M2SYS , we are excited to be a vendor in this year’s NAHAM Exhibit Hall (stop and see us in Booth #219) to meet some of the attendees and demonstrate our RightPatient™ hybrid biometric patient identification solution with iris recognition, a technology that has caught on with many hospitals and is spreading rapidly.

2. Entertainment and giveaways – We have some special surprises in our booth this year too. Stop by to meet and take a photo with Jessica Black, Miss United States 2010 and enter your name to win a prize so secretive we can’t tell you what it is…you will have to stop by our booth and see for yourself! (Hint – it has wheels)

3. Education – Accurate patient identification has become a hot topic in healthcare since accurate and effective treatment along the care continuum hinges on the ability to identity a patient correctly. Now, more than ever, it’s important to educate on what healthcare biometrics technology options are available to help ensure patient identification accuracy.

4. Mobile patient identification – We will be demonstrating a mobile iris patient identification solution in our booth that medical practitioners can use with a smart device like an Android smart phone and identify patients anywhere in a hospital setting including the ability to identify unconscious patients and patients en route to the hospital for more coordinated and effective treatment.

5. Due diligence – This is the time to ask all of the questions on your mind about the benefits of using biometrics for patient identification in a patient access setting. It is critical that you perform the necessary due diligence before investing in any type of patient identification solution. Our staff will be available to demonstrate the technology and answer any questions you may have.

Hoping to see you at the 39th annual NAHAM conference this year in Atlanta!

Defining Patient Verification & Identification in Healthcare

Five years ago, it seemed inconceivable that healthcare would be able to use biometrics as a patient identification system. Back then, biometrics was still deeply entrenched in government security deployments, merely grazing the pastures of the commercial marketplace but showing breakthrough potential for practical applications that would begin to spell dividends for a variety of vertical markets. Here we are in 2012 and hospitals all across the world are catching on to the benefits of using biometrics for patient identification; specifically, how it helps:

  • raise patient safety standard levels;

    Only iris bioemtric patient identification solutions use one to many matching that can prevent duplicates, overlays and fraud.

    Iris biometrics for patient identification uses one to many seaching

  • reduce hospital liability;
  • verify the identity of unconscious patients;
  • lower language barriers; and
  • prevent medical identity theft.

It is important to note, however, that conspicuously missing from this list of advantages is one of the most essential uses of biometrics for patient identification – the prevention of duplicate medical records.

It is widely known in the healthcare industry that duplicate medical records are a drain on both money and resources as medical facilities struggle to discover a solution that will actively prevent their creation. A biometric patient identification solution can indeed prevent the creation of new duplicate medical records, but only if it is a system based on what is called one-to-many identification (1:N).

As some may or may not know, in biometrics, there are three different ways to recognize a person: verification (one-to-one, or 1:1), segmented identification (one-to-few, or 1:Few) and identification (one-to-many, or 1:N):

Read More: Webinar on Biometric Patient Identification Technology for Patient Safety

One-To-One (1:1) Verification: This method of authentication confirms or denies a person’s claimed identity using a biometric scan and normally follows the physical presentation of an identification document (e.g. social security card, driver’s license, etc.) or the entry of a personal credential (e.g. PIN, username/password). The provided credential locates a stored biometric template that has been linked to it from a prior enrollment. After the credential is provided, the person scans his/her biometric and the captured template is compared against only the stored template that has been located with the credential. Biometric verification (1:1) answers the question, “Are you who you say you are?”

One-To-Few (1:Few) Segmented Identification

This method involves confirming or denying a person’s claimed identity using a biometric scan followed by verbal confirmation to a general identification question (e.g., What is your date of birth?) or the entry of some known general information (gender, race, eye color, etc.). The provided information segments the biometric database so that only a small number of biometric templates are compared against one another following a biometric scan.

Example – A patient walks into the ER and during registration is asked for his date of birth (DOB) before scanning his biometric identifier. If no match is found, then the hospital staff member will create a new medical record and enroll the patient’s biometric template (which will be associated to the medical record). Using another form of ID in addition to the biometric scan drastically reduces the number of biometric templates that are searched. For example, if the hospital has 500,000 stored biometric records and a patient provides a DOB of 10/9/80, only patient biometric templates with this DOB will be searched. Due to this database segmentation, all biometric templates are not compared against during initial enrollment or subsequent visits. This limitation does not prevent duplicate medical records and patient fraud (i.e., a patient could enroll with the same biometric template multiple times).

Infographic: The Cost of Duplicate Medical Records

One-To-Many (1:N) Identification

This method of identification determines a person’s identity without any prior claim needed and answers the question, “Who are you?” It substantiates an individual’s identity by comparing a scanned biometric template against all stored biometric templates. A biometric system using the one-to-many approach finds an identity from a database rather than verifying a claimed identity or searching a segmented portion of stored biometric templates.

Example – A patient walks into the ER and during registration is asked to scan her biometric identifier. The captured biometric template is compared against the entire database to see if a medical record already exists. In the absence of database segmentation, the entire medical record database is scanned to ensure a duplicate medical record is not created for this patient to prevent the chance of fraud.

Rightpatient biometric patient identification uses one to many identification to help prevent medical identity theft and eliminate duplicate medical records.

One to many identification is the only true way to prevent duplicate medical records in healthcare

Biometric patient identification systems based on 1:1 or 1:Few matching require medical facilities to ask patients for some form of identification or credential before the patient performs a biometric scan. The identification or credential provided (e.g., DOB) locates a specific patient record or group of records (e.g., list of patients with a specific DOB). When a biometric scan is performed, the captured template is only compared against one record (verification) or a very small, segmented group of records (1:Few). This does not provide a mechanism to compare the patient’s scanned biometric template against all records in the database to check for duplication or to prevent someone from being registered under multiple IDs. 1:1 and 1:Few verification will not prevent a duplicate record from being created and opens the door for patients to enroll under multiple identities and commit fraud.

In contrast, 1:N searches will scan the entire master patient index each time a patient attempts a biometric enrollment (de-duplication) and each time he or she checks in anywhere within that healthcare network (provided the patient registry is shared across the system). Providing the sole means of preventing duplicate medical records by searching each patient’s template in the entire system instead of only those who are grouped in a list after presenting an initial form of ID, 1:N searches are the only true way for healthcare to raise the level of patient safety, lower liability risks, and strengthen medical identity theft prevention programs.

Due diligence is very important before investing in a biometric patient identification system. Is your organization asking the right questions before piloting or purchasing a solution?

A version of this first appeared on Advance for Healthcare Information Professionals. 


November #biometricchat Features @EyeLockCorp to Discuss Iris Biometrics Technology

Join M2SYS Technology as they host #biometricchat on November 1st with Jeff Carter to discuss iris biometrics recognition, how it is being used, where it may be used in the future and how the technology works.

November #biometricchat features Jeff Carter from @EyelockCorp to discuss iris biometrics.

When: November 1, 2012 11:00 am EST, 8:00 am PST, 16:00 pm BST, 17:00 pm (CEST), 23:00 pm (SGT), 0:00 (JST)

Where: (hashtag #biometricchat)

What: Tweet chat on iris biometrics technology with Jeff Carter, Chief Strategy Officer of @EyeLockCorp

Topics: Differences between iris and retina biometric identification technologies, using iris recognition to identify the unconscious, public acceptance of iris biometrics compared to other biometric modalities, iris biometrics and mobile device user authentication, iris biometrics accuracy compared to other biometric modalities, and more!

Pleased to announce that after a short break, we welcome Jeff Carter (aka @EyeLock_1), Chief Strategy Officer for eyeLock (@EyelockCorp on Twitter) as our guest for November’s #biometricchat to discuss iris biometric technology. Jeff brings a wealth of experience on the topic and recently was featured as a TEDx (Technology, Education and Design) speaker on the subject of “Your Eye Will Unlock the World” which you can watch by clicking here.

Iris biometrics is considered by many to be the most accurate biometric modality and recent deployments of the technology at airports for passenger security, in healthcare for patient identification, and in finance for single sign-on to corporate networks has the technology world abuzz about additional potential uses of the technology in other capacities.

The increasing use of iris biometrics for identification and authentication has many wondering more about exactly how the technology works, what are potential future applications of its use in current and new verticals and is it a safe biometric modality? Jeff will join us in the discussion as we address these areas and more.

If you have been curious to know more about iris biometrics, this is your chance to sit in on the discussion and learn more.

Just in case you are interested in participating but are new to Tweet chats, please read this post which outlines the instructions and procedures. We hope that you will join us for the discussion, and please help us to spread the word among your colleagues and friends.

Do you have any questions about iris biometrics that you would like to ask Jeff? Just drop us an email at and we will try and include them in the chat.

Thanks, and hope to see you next Thursday, November the 1st at 11 am EDT for the #biometricchat!