Identifying the Need
One major issue ambulance corporation faces is obtaining medical information and records of every patient assisted. In many cases the patients are found unconscious with little to no identification found on them. On some occasions, unconscious patients are allergic to many medications, making it difficult for the paramedic to treat the patient in fear of causing more medical conditions. Thus, there is a need for a system to quickly identify and provide access to critical medical information and history of a patient without the need of verbal communication.
Our solution (the I.D.-Me system) is to use the patient’s fingerprint of the right index finger to identify the patient in a medical database, Should files not exist, our system will register the patient and associate him/her with the print such that in the future, the patient’s information could be quickly acquired. In this way, no verbal communication is necessary to obtain the needed information. The patient data is stored in several files on a computer within the ambulance and are encrypted with a high security encryption algorithm to comply with the HIPAA, which sets legal guidelines for the security of sensitive patient information.
The I.D.-Me system is composed of two parts that communicate via radio transmissions across an Xbee radio which sends data at a frequency in the 2.4GHz band and follows the Zigbee protocol (IEEE 802.14.5). The first part of the system is a laptop located within the ambulance for EMT use, where the patients' files are stored encrypted with AES-256. We designed a special and intuitive graphical PC program written in Python (allowing compatibility with multiple operating systems) to allow paramedics to review patient data, in addition to modify, delete and add to medical history. Attached to this laptop is a wireless dongle, which we call the “Base Station”, whose sole purpose is to allow the computer to wirelessly communicate with the fingerprint scanner.
The second hardware component of the I.D.-Me system is the "Remote Device", whose purpose is to collect and identify a patient's fingerprint, securely reporting the patient's identity to the EMT computer through the Base Station. This battery powered device consists of an Arduino Microcontroller and a generic fingerprint scanner, in addition to an Xbee radio and 3 status LEDs to assist the EMT in scanning the fingerprint. When a signal is received from the Base Station, this Remote Device is designed to rapidly scan the patient's finger twice when pressed onto the fingerprint scanner for a 99.9999% fingerprint detection accuracy. The I.D.-Me benefits from a common interface between the Remote Device and Base Station for scalability.
This design fulfills a technology push, allowing emergency medical support teams to ensure the patient’s lives are in good hands. The I.D.-Me system will be a step forward in the future of technology that can provide ease and security in the medical field when dealing with patients.