Biometric Screening: The Definitive Guide

biometric screening health

Biometric Screening Info

Biometric Screening has been available for almost a decade, but in the year 2016, it made a sudden leap forward. Now you can’t seem to escape it wherever you go.

Why is that?

In an increasing number of global organizations, it is becoming mandatory. You can’t leave the country or come in without it, and soon you might need it before you get your hair cut!

But that’s way into the future, so let’s dial it back to current day.

There has been a lot of confusion about what biometric screening is. We all know it is important and it makes life easier or better somehow, but what exactly is it?

That is why this guide was created: to inform and help you make the right decision regarding your future, today.

Biometric Screening Table of Contents

Feel free to use our quick navigation menu to quickly scroll down to the topic you are most interested in. Although, if you ask us, we think EVERYTHING about biometric screening is super interesting so we wouldn't scroll...

biometric verification vs biometric screeningBiometric Verification Versus Biometric Screening

Biometric Verification is definitely more common to most people than Biometric Screening.

Biometric verification will help identify an individual based on their physical appearance or fingerprints, while biometric screening reveals a person’s health status.

As pointed out above, biometric verification is what you would most likely find at an airport, a bank or an iPhone. Although, apps are being developed to help people carry out their own biometric screening as well, but that is a different story.

While they may sound similar, they cover two entirely different things. One is external and the other is internal. Both very important, but with two vastly different aims.

What Is Biometric Screening?

Biometric Screening is the study of physical and biological characteristics of an individual as a means of assessing their present day health and future vulnerabilities. It enables doctors better assess any predispositions or genetic markers that could indicate any impending health challenges.

It is an early detection system that aims to “insure” or help prevent the onset of certain health challenges, some of which have no cure.

The assessment collates information on a person’s height, weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), cholesterol levels, blood pressure, waist circumference and blood glucose. Some tests include aerobic fitness, tobacco usage and cancer screening.

Measurements Analyzed...

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Calculated BMI
  • Waist Circumference
  • Hip Circumference
  • Body Fat and Body Composition
  • Blood Pressure
  • Pulse Rate

While biometric screening can seem intimidating (not everyone wants to know if they are susceptible to cardiac arrests), it is the closest thing we have to genuine preventive measures for many sicknesses and diseases.

Biometric screening should not be confused with biometric technology. While the former has to do with health, the latter relates to enhanced digital security by means of biological factors and mathematics.

Fun Fact: Although labs go through rigorous testing and quality audits, they are allowed a 20% variance in results.

20 %
Allowable Variance

Biometric Screening Results: How Does It Work?

DNA strandThis digital age we live in is one with endless marvels, which to a man who lived a century ago would look like magic.

Yes, so how exactly does this thing work? Can it tell me how long I’m going to live or what my children will look like? Or how many more chocolate bars I can eat before my heart gives in?

Umm, not quite….unfortunately.

Biometric screenings tend to focus on four main risk factors – blood pressure, blood glucose, blood lipids and BMI.

With these, doctors can quickly assess if you have an “elevated health risk”. Right now, the death rate from heart disease is the lowest it has been over the past 75 years.

The aim of biometric screening is to get these and other disease death rates even lower. The results will let a person know if they are in danger of developing diabetes, heart failure, cancer (from the little we can predict) and other diseases.

This will enable them make the desired changes to prevent these things from occurring. More than half of the population are unaware of their elevated risk factors, but that will soon change.

For it to be effective however, the results have to come quickly. Some results are available instantly, while others need to be correlated and confirmed over a few days or weeks.

Medication, an exercise regime and dietary changes are recommended almost immediately, to those in critical conditions.

Is There Biometric Screening For Immigration?

biometric screening for immigrationA country’s borders are the most vulnerable points of access to threats, both biological and physical. As a result, most countries in the world have adopted biometric measures as part of their immigration protocol.

Australia has used a biometric passport for the past decade. The ePassport has a microchip containing the same information as on the color page of the passport. Similarly, there are now eGates at all the major airports, which allow passengers with biometric passports to go through immigration lines quicker.

All you have to do is walk towards the gate, and the camera confirms your facial cues in connection with the scanned information in your passport and you can go right through. It is important to note that at the current time, the only biometric data collected by Border Protection are facial images, iris scans and fingerprints.

This is a different type of biometric screening; it is more literal. It screens or checks imputed biometric data for security reasons.

However, it will only be a matter of time before biometric screening of the medical kind becomes prevalent at entry ports. A passenger with an increased risk of a myocardial infarction (heart attack) could be saved by being prevented from boarding a plane, for example.

Fun Fact: India is one of the most aggressive countries using biometric technology in their immigration systems.

Read more about countries using biometrics for immigration here.

What If I Don’t Like My Results?

biometric screening resultsIf you’re not happy with what you’ve seen or it seems contrary to what your doctor said, you can go to the next wellness centre and have another test done.

Surprisingly, the results may differ, as labs are allowed a +/- 20 percent variance.

Different labs use different testing methodologies and assess data differently. So while one lab may tell you that your total cholesterol is 200, another might say 140.

Having your screening done by the right company is very important, and it is also worth getting a second opinion, just as you would for a doctor.

Biometric Screening and Drug Testing

A number of people have resisted biometric screening because they fear it might give away additional information they may want people to know.

But not to worry, biometric screening doesn’t test for drugs in the system. At the very least, the impact of these drugs on your system would be registered, not the presence of the drugs themselves.

But given the flexibility of it, the screening vendor could account for it as well.

Fun Fact: Biometric screenings generally do not include drug testing of any sort.

Biometric Screening Preparation

Before your screening is done, there are a few things you need to do to prepare. One of them is to go on a fast.

You are required to fast for the 9 hours leading up to the screen. This would enable testers to ascertain your triglycerides (a type of fat which causes heart disease) and your bad cholesterol (LDL).

You are allowed to drink water and black coffee though. Oh, but no cream or sugar, sorry. So drink as much water as you like, and imagine it tastes like red wine, if that would help.

If you forget to fast, you can still go for your screening, but be sure to reveal this information.

If you are on any medication, you should keep taking them as normal. These should not interfere with your results. If it does, you can have another screening after you’ve stopped using them.

Biometric Screening Jobs

Some of you reading this might be dreaming of a job in the industry. After all, you get to help save people’s lives even before they know they need saving.

If that isn’t heroic I don’t know what is.

Biometric screening is still rather new in some countries, like Australia, and most of the work is focused on the security side of it with things like:

  • Immigration services
  • Banks and other financial institutions
  • Security agencies
  • Armed forces
  • …and many other industries are in constant need of people in this field.

But as for the real biometric screening jobs, lab technicians, phlebotomists, doctors and other medical personnel would fit right into the field naturally.

Of course they would need the tech savvy apprentices storing the information on computers and liaising with the relevant authorities.

Staying Ahead of Sickness and Disease

It’s hard to imagine why biometric screening hasn’t become compulsory the world over. However, such a system would be quite expensive to implement for less developed countries.

However, the US has adopted it as a workplace requirement, making it easier and cheaper to carry out due to the increased competition. Some companies have included it in their hiring criteria, while some insurers won’t give coverage without it.

Biometric screening is saving lives, and it could help prolong yours as well. A lot of the procedures have been in place for decades, but collating the data this way is new and game-changing.

It is important that once you have completed your biometric screening and you have gotten your results, you follow through with the recommended course of action.

After all, what’s the point of knowing how to improve your life if you’re not going to do it?

If you’ve never had biometric and you are an adult, it is highly beneficial for you to do so soon.

It’s a brave new world, but thankfully, you no longer have to be brave to survive, just screened.

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