Health IT, Hospitals

New Jersey seeks to prevent patient mix-ups with “Master Person Index”

In an effort to reduce medical errors and potential misunderstandings, the New Jersey Innovation Institute is developing a “Master Person Index,” which will serve as a master database of each New Jersey resident’s health-related information.

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Chances are, there’s more than one person with your name. That similarity could be problematic when someone’s trying to friend you on Facebook or find you on LinkedIn. Even worse, it could result in a drastic complication when you visit the hospital.

Patient misidentification only exacerbates the likelihood of medical errors occurring. That’s why New Jersey is creating a “Master Person Index,” according to The National Law Review.

The index strives to piece together the health-related details of each person in the state. It will combine the information kept in a variety of different databases, including urgent care facilities, clinics, pharmacies, medical centers, hospitals and records from the New Jersey Department of Health. Additionally, it will link to public health databases.

The MPI, which is being developed by the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), will then assign a unique identifier to every resident.

In 2016, the NJII received a $2.9 million grant from HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to create the database.

“We’re honored to be recipients of this grant from the HHS and to have the opportunity to put NJII’s innovative technology and services to work in advancing patient care here in New Jersey,” DNJII president Donald Sebastian said in a statement at the time.

The MPI has started as a pilot with two Newark-based providers (University Hospital and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center) participating.

Though some may be concerned about security issues, NJII is creating a legal framework that will determine who can access the patient information.

While the overall goal is lofty, NJII hopes the index will play a role in solving problems like misdiagnosis and mistreatment.

Developing massive database isn’t all that NJII (which is a subsidiary of New Jersey Institute of Technology) has been up to. Recently, it joined forces with Edison, New Jersey-based Hackensack Meridian Health to set up a healthcare incubator called the Agile Strategies Lab. It will help inventors obtain patents and accelerate product development. Hackensack Meridian Health committed $25 million to the program.

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