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CHIME Announces Unique Patient Identifier Challenge

March 17, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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The College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME), the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based advocacy group, is putting up $1 million to challenge innovators to create a solution that accurately matches patients with their healthcare information.

CHIME plans to launch its National Patient ID Challenge by the summer. It is currently raising the money and has put a task force of healthcare IT leaders in place who will form challenge guidelines and winning criteria.

"There is a growing consensus among payers and providers that a unique patient ID would radically reduce medical errors and save lives," CHIME CEO and President Russell P. Branzell, said in a statement."Incomplete or duplicate health records present significant issues in terms of patient safety, and there is a pressing need for preventing, detecting and removing inaccurate records so hospitals can positively match the right data with the right patient in order to provide the best possible care." 

For the National Patient ID Challenge, CHIME is working with HeroX, a nonprofit offshoot of XPRIZE, an organization based in Culver City, Calif. HeroX is a platform that hosts innovation challenges.

CHIME said there is a huge need for a unique patient identifier. In the release, the organization cited data collected by the Harris County Hospital District in Houston where there are 2,488 actual patients named Maria Garcia, 231 of which share the same birth date.



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With all due respect, this is a complete waste of money and effort.

There is a simple way to identify an individual. It's been used for generations and, thanks to the smartphone, it's used more widely today than ever. It's called a photograph!

If we change our approach to interoperability from trying to connect providers' "siloed" records on the fly to aggregating a patient's complete record from all her providers on a device the patient carries with her, the problem is solved. Just include her picture on the device.

When she sees a provider, he compares the picture on the device with the face in front of him. If they match, he treats her and refers to her records as necessary. If they don't, he treats her but ignores the records.

And BTW, this "different" approach accompanied by an equally different business model, solves the other major hurdles to interoperability, too. You don't have to bother with the technical issues of matching data fields. The legal issues surrounding consents and sending records across state lines, go away. The security and privacy issues are solved by not storing patient records on a server or in the cloud. And the concern over financial sustainability goes away.

Couldn't be simpler! And guess what? This approach works today — so we can and do have interoperability today!

It would be nice if this interesting initiative leveraged the experience and data specifications used in ISO 22222 Identification of subjects of care.


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