Health IT, Patient Engagement

Here’s exactly why some kind of patient ID system is so necessary

“Interoperability isn’t an academic exercise,” said HL7 CEO Dr. Charles Jaffe.

patient ID

Not everyone is in favor of federally mandated national patient identifiers, but it’s pretty obvious why some sort of patient ID system is so necessary.

Dr. Charles Jaffe, CEO of standards development organization Health Level Seven International, said Tuesday at the 13th annual World Health Care Congress in Washington that Kaiser Permanente Southern California had records of 10,000 people named Maria Gonzales. Ten thousand.

And lest anyone think that a less-common name would be easier to match to a specific medical record, Jaffe tossed out another tasty tidbit. There are nine people in the U.S. not only named Charles Jaffe, but who also have medical degrees.

“Interoperability isn’t an academic exercise,” said Jaffe.

In fact, there’s some good money to be made on just the patient ID part of it. Recall that the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives is challenging the private sector to solve the problem of records matching. There’s a $1 million prize on the line.

Dr. Tejal Gandhi, CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation — a CHIME challenge partner — called inaccurate patient ID “a significant public health issue.

Photo: Flickr user Chris Hartman