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CHIME calls for national patient ID with $1M challenge

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, better known as CHIME, is launching a $1 million challenge effort to help spur the creation of a national patient ID, which it says will help with online security and accuracy. “There is a growing consensus among payers and providers that a unique patient ID would radically reduce […]

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, better known as CHIME, is launching a $1 million challenge effort to help spur the creation of a national patient ID, which it says will help with online security and accuracy.

“There is a growing consensus among payers and providers that a unique patient ID would radically reduce medical errors and save lives,” CHIME CEO and President Russell P. Branzell said in a statement. “Incomplete or duplicate health records present significant issues in terms of patient safety, and there is a pressing need for preventing, detecting and removing inaccurate records so hospitals can positively match the right data with the right patient in order to provide the best possible care.”

The idea of a national patient ID has been around for some time, but with a recent torrent of high-profile data breaches like Anthem’s massive hack, the concept has crept  back into conversations on security, given that the healthcare industry still largely relies on Social Security numbers. But such an ID has additional benefits, according to CHIME and other proponents, including the elimination of duplicate or inaccurate patient records, which can arise from manual entry errors or when patients have the same common name.

That might seem banal to some, but it presents “considerable concern” for patients and has the potential to cause inadequate treatment or untended injury, according to CHIME.

Consider the following example, provided by CHIME: Data collected by the Harris County Hospital District in Houston found there are 2,488 actual patients named Maria Garcia – in which 231 of those share the same birth date.

CHIME goes on to cite a 2012 survey of member CIOs, which found error rates due to patient mismatching averaged eight percent and ranged up to 20 percent. Moreover, 19 percent of the 128 respondents indicated that their hospital had experienced an adverse event during the course of the year due to a patient information mismatch.

“This needs to be the year of positive patient identification,” said CHIME Board Chair Charles Christian, also vice president and CIO of St. Francis Hospital in Georgia. “Healthcare CIOs have long struggled with a lack of national standards for eradicating the burdens of matching patient data when engaging in health information exchange.”

A coalition of industry partners from the vendor and association communities have lent their support for CHIME’s National Patient ID Challenge. The effort, aimed at a broad range of innovators, will launch early this summer on the HeroX platform, co-founded by XPRIZE CEO Dr. Peter Diamandis.