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Sunday 24 September 2017
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The National Patient ID Problem

The National Patient ID Problem

The National Patient ID Problem

 

The Velocity Interoperability Blog and Velocity Interoperability Podcast are sponsored by Velocity Health Informatics. Velocity provides both data quality and data integration as a service offerings to ensure that healthcare providers access the correct patient record with the right data for each patient they serve.

What is a National Patient ID?

Many years ago it was decided  in the US that social security numbers would no longer be used to identify Americans when they became patients.  (Maybe by the creators of HIPPA? Nope! It turns out that “The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 authorized the government to introduce an NPI as a way to make medical records more portable” – details here)  We will leave the debate as to whether it was the best decision to prevent healthcare entities from using SSN to others, however, the result is clear.  We now have NO reliable, socially responsible way to uniquely identify patients as they engage in a healthcare setting.  The solution is clear.  A national system for uniquely identifying patients must be established.  It may be as simple as a numbering system or it may be much more complicated (as many highly technical/biometric solutions that are being proposed and investigated).

Why do we need a National Patient ID?

Repeating from the answer above:  We now have NO reliable, socially responsible way to uniquely identify patients as they engage in a healthcare setting.

Further, now that we have spent on $38B to ensure that all (most) providers have electronic medical record systems (EMR), interoperability between all providers’ EMRs is severely compromised and constrained due to the lack of ability to confidentially identify patients. Health information management professionals tell us that, on average, providers have 10-12% duplicate records.  Listen to our recent interview with Leigh Williams for more thought leaderships on duplicate records.  Most Health IT professionals with the expertise to have a valid opinion on this topic believe that the implementation of a National Patient ID will essentially eliminate “the duplicate record problem”.  Here is a great article supporting that argument.

Why isn’t something being done to create a National Patient ID?

In fact, things are being done.

Last January, CHIME announced their National Patient ID Challenge.  There is a TON of great information on the National Patient ID Challenge website describing the challenges and the background of the Patient ID problem so we strongly encourage you to spend some time there checking it out. For those that will bookmark out the site and check it out later, the summary is CHIME is paying $1,000,000 to the person or company that comes up with the best solution to the Patient ID Challenge.  The 5 judges will determine which solution proposed from the 37 teams is best and announce the winner in June 2017.

Also, in December 2016, President Obama signed The 21st Century Cures Act into law.  The focus of the Cures Act is primarily on medical research and the approval process for medical devices and drugs, however, the Cures Act also addresses patient identification and patient matching.  Specifically, the GAO will be required to assess and report on the state of patient matching in both government and private sector healthcare.  Additionally, the Cures acts specifies the creation of a federal health IT advisory committee whose charter will be to evaluate how to create a health IT infrastructure that allows for electronic exchange and access of health information.  Any such effort will surely include the establishment of a National Patient ID.

Also in December 2016, The Sequoia Project announced the formation of the Patient Identity Management Work Group.  You can learn more about their efforts here, or even sign up to participate.

What do HIMSS and AHIMA have to say about a National Patient ID?

Quite a lot actually.

In 2012, HIMSS asked Congress to study patient identification issues.  More on that here.  This got the current conversation started.

In 2016, AHIMA launched an effort to collect 100,000 signatures on a petition to ask the White House to address the need for a unique patient ID.

Conclusion

Although it’s still not clear what the downside to a National Patient ID would be.  We certainly need one now more than ever,  The Meaningful Use program will be MUCH less successful without a National Patient ID as giving providers EMRs that do not interoperate is dangerous and puts a tremendous burden on patients that then must cobble together their health records from multiple (10’s or 100’s) EMRs that are incapable of reliably identify them.  Let’s all get busy and help CHIME shine a light on their efforts so that Congress will act swiftly to create a National Patient ID.

 

Join the Conversation

Please jump in and participate as your input will only improve our chances of success.  The fine folks at Velocity are interested in exploring and improving our current states of medical record data quality and interoperability and this post is the first of many posts and (coming soon) podcasts reporting on current status and solutions.  PLEASE bookmark this page and provide your input and feedback on a regular basis!

 

The Velocity Interoperability Blog and Velocity Interoperability Podcast are sponsored by Velocity Health Informatics. Velocity provides both data quality and data integration as a service offerings to ensure that healthcare providers access the correct patient record with the right data for each patient they serve.

Joe Lavelle
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Joe Lavelle

Editor-in-Chief, Healthcare at intrepidNow
JOE LAVELLE is a Healthcare Management and Technology Consultant with a record of successfully meeting the business and technology challenges of diverse organizations including health plans, health delivery networks, and health care companies for 25 years. Joe worked his way up through Cap Gemini and Andersen Consulting to the partner/VP level of at First Consulting Group, Technology Solutions Group and Santa Rosa Consulting. After running his own company, Results First Consulting, for 12 years Joe Co-Founded intrepidNow with Todd Schnick to create incredible content to dramatically improve the sales and marketing efforts of their clients.
Joe Lavelle
Follow me


JOE LAVELLE is a Healthcare Management and Technology Consultant with a record of successfully meeting the business and technology challenges of diverse organizations including health plans, health delivery networks, and health care companies for 25 years. Joe worked his way up through Cap Gemini and Andersen Consulting to the partner/VP level of at First Consulting Group, Technology Solutions Group and Santa Rosa Consulting. After running his own company, Results First Consulting, for 12 years Joe Co-Founded intrepidNow with Todd Schnick to create incredible content to dramatically improve the sales and marketing efforts of their clients.


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