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Study Finds Benefits for Unique IDs

October 21, 2008
by root
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Creating a unique patient identification number for every person in the United States would facilitate a reduction in medical errors, simplify the use of electronic medical records, increase overall efficiency and help protect patient privacy, according to a RAND Corporation (Santa Monica, Calif.) study.

Although creating such a system could cost as much as $11 billion, the effort, the report says, would likely return even more in benefits to the nation’s healthcare system. Patient identifier adoption, the study says, would be to eliminate record errors, and help reduce repetitive and unneeded care.

The study, “Identity Crisis: An Examination of the Costs and Benefits of a Unique Patient Identifier for the U.S. Health Care System,” is available at online.

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Re your article on the recently published Rand white paper, “Identity Crisis: An Examination of the Costs and Benefits of a Unique Patient Identifier,” there IS a solution that is based on ASTM standards, vastly cheaper (by a factor of 500!), eliminates the need for a monolithic government-run system and enhances patient privacy protections. I’ve been working with Dr. Barry Hieb who left Gartner in August to pursue his Voluntary Universal Patient Identifier (VUHID) project on a full-time basis. Barry has been working on this part-time for a few years and has vetted VUHID design and implementation concepts with a broad array of industry leaders. We’ve formed a non-profit company, Global Patient Identifiers, Inc. (GPII) to manage all the work that’s yet to be done – additional development and testing, outreach and education, deployment to 2-3 beta sites by mid-2009, and ongoing maintenance of the VUHID distribution and management processes. Note my emphasis on non-profit. We’re running mostly on volunteer time and our strong belief that VUHID will solve this essential challenge so we can get on with the tougher issues related to healthcare reform. We’ll continue these efforts but encourage you to pass the word – and pass the hat! If anyone is interested in learning more, go to (work on the web site is in process so no design critiques, please!) and contact us if you want more information or would like to support this worthwhile effort.


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