Universal Patient Identifier

Monday, March 7, 2022 8:44:37 PM

Universal Patient Identifier

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Correct Patient Identification Campaign #1

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I wouldn't be surprised if within 1 or 2 years we'll succeed in getting that, because the logic is pretty clear. Michael McCoy, MD, co-chair of the board of directors at IHE International, a non-profit standard development organization, said that the coronavirus pandemic has really helped to demonstrate the need for clinical interoperability, including with geographical sharing of available clinical resources.

He gave the example of a partnership in The Netherlands between the Ministry of Health, Erasmus Hospital System, and Phillips to move patients between facilities, using a patient identifier. Ed Hammond, director of Duke University's Center for Health Informatics, said that on two occasions, healthcare data from his son -- who has the same first and last name -- was put into Hammond's record by mistake. People travel for lots and lots of reasons Hammond proposed paying for implementation of the identifier by having a database associated with it; the database could have information, for example, on who has and has not been immunized for COVID, and who has antibodies. Privacy would of course be an issue, but "this is a solvable problem," he said, adding that the information could be kept as simple as possible.

When do things go wrong with patient identifiers? When people pretend that they're secret, said Jeremy Grant, managing director of technology business strategy at Venable, a law firm here. However, the potential for such a system to be developed in the U. The House vote reflects a growing understanding that efforts to improve the safety, efficiency and cost of the healthcare system are essentially stalled until a more centralized way of tracking patients and coordinating care can be developed. If the Senate vote reflects that of the House, the central challenge facing the development of this system—aside from political will—relates to methods of implementation.

There are many open questions about the most effective and secure way to create and manage this system. Should the identifiers be provided and managed by a federal body or agency? By the states? By a third-party in the private sector? What standards should be set for when the identifiers can be used and why? How much control should patients have over the use of these identifiers? What logistical qualifications should patients need to associate themselves with their identifier? One country that has done this well is the U. On the provider side, records are accessed, and access logged, only by trusted individuals who have themselves been identified by a secure identity. Privileges to write data into the record require a higher bar of two-factor authentication.

The simple provision of personal information by the patient enables them to be accurately identified and coordinated care to begin quickly, safe in the knowledge their personal health data is being securely managed. This high bar for identification presents a problem for providers who want to access patient information before the patient is physically present in the office. An orthopedic surgeon, for example, would not be able to pull prior lab results until the patient came to the office to present his card, an incredible inefficiency that prevents triaging or preparing for provision of care. The question of whether people should have an identifier at all is currently of greater public interest, but it presents far less of a legitimate point of apprehension.

In fact, the amount of information a healthcare identifier system would store about any given person would be no more than the DMV usually keeps. If the government requires a physical card that is linked to a physical address and a bank account, then the bar is high for access to healthcare in the context of a society that contains a significant number of vulnerable people. But if the U. This policy decision holds so much potential to transform patient safety and the delivery of care in the U. More for you.

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