A pilot program in Ohio is using fingerprint scans in an effort to fight prescription drug abuse. Patients submit to a scan before seeing doctors in one hospital system, while several pharmacies are using the scans for patients filling prescriptions. Participation in the program is voluntary.
The biometric tools being used in the one-year program are similar to those used by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to spot potentially dangerous people, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In Ohio, an average of 67 opioid painkillers are prescribed to each resident every year, the article notes. If the pilot program is successful, the scans could become more widespread throughout the state.
Once the fingerprint is scanned, the data is instantly uploaded to the patient’s electronic medical record. The information will help track how many times the patient has visited the doctor and pharmacy, and how many pills the patient has been prescribed.
The instant information provided by the fingerprints will provide data more quickly than Ohio’s prescription drug monitoring program, which has a one-week lag in uploading patient data.
The Ohio program allows officials to focus on prevention, Orman Hall, Director of Ohio’s Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services, told the newspaper. “Currently, it’s all after the fact,” he said. The pilot program “gives us better and more timely information about people who are abusing.”
In a news release, Hall noted, “We are excited about the potential of this new technology to help reduce prescription drug abuse, doctor shopping and sales of medications for the purposes of abuse.”