Question from Scott Mace, senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media:
Who should define the concept or process of a standardized patient ID?
The lack of a commonly-agreed upon patient ID remains a serious headache for healthcare IT. Without such a common patient ID standard, healthcare providers spend considerable time, effort and money aligning various patient IDs in various silos created by healthcare IT vendors, providers, payers and government, and few if any of these silos are talking to each other.
Part of this originates from amendments to HIPAA that forbid the federal government from defining a national patient identifier. Privacy advocates inserted this prohibition and fear that increasing government surveillance makes it imperative that patients not be required to use someone else’s credentials, but should be able to self-assert their identities, so they may use their own pseudonymic identities in a way that maximizes privacy yet minimizes the potential for patient fraud or thwart such efforts as eluding prescription drug monitoring programs.
A group called the Internet Identity Ecosystem Steering Group (IDESG), established by the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), created by President Obama in April 2011, is trying to solve these problems. The group is posing a series of interesting questions: Who gets to create databases of the activities of real people? Who gets to query those databases? Is everyone that is allowed to query real-person databases subject to federal regulation?
IDESG needs to attract more important stakeholders in order to solve this problem. Otherwise, the problem will be solved by others who may be dominated by vendors, such as the Commonwell Health Alliance or other particular interests that do not represent all important stakeholders.
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