CHIME Launches $1M National Patient ID Challenge | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

CHIME Launches $1M National Patient ID Challenge

January 19, 2016
by Heather Landi
| Reprints
National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, M.D., applauds the patient identification challenge as an example of private sector leadership with developing national standards and health IT innovation
Click To View Gallery

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) announced today a National Patient ID Challenge, a $1 million crowdsourcing competition to incentivize the private sector to develop a fail-safe patient identifying solution that links patients to their medical records.

Partnering with HeroX, a crowdsourcing innovation platform, on the initiative, CHIME aims to encourage innovators to help solve the complex problem of patient misidentification There is currently no universal standard to 100 percent accurately identify patients and match them to their medical records. And, since 1999, the federal government is prohibited from spending public funds on the development of a national patient identifier.

“Patient mismatching and our inability to accurately identify patients across the continuum of care has been an ongoing problem for the industry. Now is the time to fix this problem. We have an ethical responsibility to fix the problem in front us and we’ve done this in a unique way,” CHIME President and CEO Russell Branzell said during a press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 18 announcing the challenge. “It shouldn’t be our expectation to ask government to fix all our problems; to come up with new laws, legislation or guidelines. At some point, we have to stand up and say we can do this ourselves.” Branzell continued, “We are optimistic we will find a solution that is scalable, affordable, private and secure.”

Karen DeSalvo, M.D., National Coordinator for Health IT, also attended the press conference and thanked CHIME for its leadership on the issue of patient identification and for “stepping into the breach to take on touch challenges.”

DeSalvo pointed out that CHIME’s Patient ID Challenge was one example of how ONC, as a federal partner, and the private sector worked together to advance health IT and create “an open, connected community of health, one in which information is available when and where it matters.”

“Even as we at ONC have been tackling this critical underpinning of patient identification and concurrently working with the private sector and others to see that we are developing models that get us to a best place of patient matching, we also know that there are opportunities for the private sector to advance in this space and to think of “out of the box” opportunities for us to do a better job of making sure that the right information is wrapped around the right person and community,” she said.

HeroX has been tapped to run the year-long competition, which is now open for innovators to submit solutions. In the spring, CHIME and HeroX will announce participants moving forward on to the Concept Blitz Round. Innovators will then develop and refine their ideas for the Final Innovation Round and CHIME will announce the $1 million winner in February 2017.

Concerns about patient safety have been the driving force in ongoing discussions about the need for a national patient identification standard. In a 2014 report about the issue, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) found the best error rate among healthcare providers is around 7 percent and the error rate is typically closer to 10 to 20 percent within healthcare entities and rises to 50 to 60 percent when entities exchange information with each other.

Tejal Gandhi, M.D., president and CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), who also spoke at the press announcement, said avoidable medical errors and adverse events represent a serious health issue that causes thousands of deaths and untold harm each year.

“Patient safety is about eliminating preventable harm, and I’m here to support this initiative because patient misidentification is a preventable event. It is a situation we can correct and we hope this initiative will helps us find an important part of the solution,” Gandhi said.

Mark Probst, vice president and CIO at Intermountain Healthcare, a 23-hospital health system in Salt Lake City, Utah, said at the press conference that Intermountain spends about $4 million to $5 million annually on technologies and processes to try to ensure proper patient identification.

From the health system perspective, Probst highlighted several ways the lack of a 100-percent accurate patient identification standard impacts patient care, such as a woman who has a mammogram and the results of that mammogram end up in the wrong patient record.

“It all comes back to our inability to positively identify an individual in the system. Now is the time for a national patient ID. We all know there is politics around this issue and that’s why I’m so proud of CHIME for taking the leadership from a non-governmental perspective and as the private sector to try to get a challenge out there and try to find a positive way to identify patients,” Probst said.

Open innovation challenges have a history of advancing innovation and innovation challenges and crowdsourcing can be “incredible tools to spur breakthroughs,” said Nidhi Chaudhary, vice president of challenge success at HeroX.

“New ideas and reinventions of old ideas can come from anywhere and from anyone. It’s from the crowd that we can find the most innovative solutions. Congratulations to the entire CHIME team for their courage and leadership in issuing this challenge and to all the competitors, game on,” she said.


Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More



I'd be much more interested to see how this universal identifier could possibly be protected. Once a person has such a guaranteed identifier associated with them, then it will overrule any attempt at keeping their sensitive medical information away from the wrong hands.

See also, "Social Security Number overuse", "Identity Theft", and "Politics of Personal Destruction".

I would be extremely careful how this identifier is used, and would probably object if any clinician tried to use one for me or my family. I'll take the chance of errors.

So here we have a classic political failure that needs to be solved by technology. Healthcare is full of these 'insane' situations and we wonder why systems don't work as planned, have errors and cost a bundle?
The simple albeit political solution is to allow an opt-in/out NPI. Just like TSA does for trusted fliers. Works there, people accept it, why not here? Why isn't HIMSS/CHIME spending a million to lobby that solution?