Saturday, May 16, 2009

Do electronic medical records imply a national ID card?


I don't know. But the idea has been around for awhile:

As privacy concerns have assumed center stage, the many compelling advantages of the UHI [Universal Health Identifier] including aspects of a UHI that will promote privacy are getting lost in the debate. A unique identifier would allow for more rapid and accurate identification and integration of the proper patient records, so patients can receive safer and higher quality health care. Every aspect of health care from making sure the right person gets the right blood transfusion to making sure the right insurance company pays for care requires accurate identification of individuals. A unique identifier is desirable because the identifier used today is a person's name. Since names are not unique we have to collect additional information to identify an individual such as birth date, gender, SSN, and mother's maiden name. As more information is collected error rates increase. It is currently estimated that there is an error rate of 5 to 8 percent in identifying patients. In addition, the information many people have an opportunity to see personally identifiable information. Replacing a name with an identifier could reduce errors and provide greater privacy protection.

A UHI can improve confidentiality, by providing accurate identification without unnecessarily disclosing a patient's identity. For example, it can eliminate the need to use names on many claims forms and clinical records. It can replace the multiple pieces of identifying information (e.g., name, birth date, gender, SSN) about a patient that today must accompany clinical and financial information to ensure positive identification.


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