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Hospital scans palms to track patients

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Vein recognition? Not vain at all. A new biometric system allows NYU's Langone Medical Center to scan patients palms and cut down on paperwork.

A New York City hospital is using patients' palms, not insurance cards, to pull records, according to a new report.

The New York University Langone Medical Center started scanning palms last month to reduce paperwork and prevent identity theft, the New York Daily News reports, using a device that images the veins in a patient's hand.

Shaped like a butter tray, the black PatientSecure device uses infrared light to scan palms, then links the unique biometric trait to a patient's electronic health records.

That's right: no need to pore through a purse for an insurance card. When you return to the hospital for a visit, just place your hand on the box and let the machine do the talking.

The hope is that such technology can help receptionists and patients spend more time dealing with each other than paperwork. NYU is the first hospital to use the system.

Kathleen Lucadamo reports:

One patient who asked not to be identified found it creepy.

"It was the kind of intrusion that if government needed it, you'd have to be under arrest or something," he said.

The system is, of course, optional and the palm print is included in the patient information protected by federal law. More than 22,000 patients have used the system already, the hospital says.

Here's a look at how it works in a video:

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Andrew Nusca

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Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure