Yet Another Third Rail in Healthcare

By Dr. Nick van Terheyden aka Dr. Nick
Twitter: @drnic1
Host of Dr. Nick: The Incrementalist – #TheIncrementalist

National Patient Identifier
On this episode I am talking to Dan Cidon (@dcidon), Chief Technology Officer at NextGate (@Nextgate) who is a mechanical engineer by training but found himself on a path of identification of people in the support of the delivery of healthcare.

Episode NOW on Demand

We talked about what some consider a “third-rail” topic – a national patient identifier. Or perhaps more accurately a National Patient Health Identifier. Since we must have the ability to uniquely and correctly identify patients in healthcare there are multiple methods to do so – oftentimes using the social security number a proxy for identification (although thankfully this method is declining). You would think that we have a National Patient identifier but despite a provision for creating one in the original legislation for HIPAA from 1996 but thanks to an amendment the Department of Health and Human Services was prohibited from using funds to develop or promote a unique patient identifier system out of concerns over privacy and security of patient data. As Dan and I discuss – this particular bird has flown the coup and while privacy and security of data remains paramount health data has been routed in privacy and security failures. We live in a new digital (native) age and as we discuss the introduction of an National Health Identifier might actually offer better protection and security of your personal and health data

That time may be approaching as the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $99.4 billion HHS appropriations bill with several amendments including reversing a longtime ban on developing a national patient identifier. It still has to pass the senate but that is at least an incremental step forward although the fear mongering has already started with comments suggesting the end of privacy and the start of a national health data system and a socialized health care system. Really! The idea that a uniquely identifying a patient to make sure you are giving the right care, to the right patient while looking at the right records is the end of privacy?

We discuss the nature of current data being shared willingly by everyone today and something that is the basis for Carrot Health’s ability to provide unique patient insights and support as detailed in Consumer Level Insights to Healthcare.

Listen in to hear Dan and I discuss this complex topic, why even if we paused reality for a second and imagined a world where people could cease the binary confirmation bias driven refusal to compromise and created a National Health Pateint Identifier today we would still not solve the problem of accurately identifying patients but we would move one incremental step forward to actually improving patients privacy and security fo their health data.

About the Show
For years Dr. Nick van Terheyden aka Dr. Nick, has served as a voice on the impact of new technologies on healthcare, earning a reputation as a leading authority on where the future of medicine is going. Combining powers of observation and real world experience, Dr. Nick has seen many predictions come true and makes the case that innovations in healthcare can be accomplished incrementally, not just by moonshot events. Tune in to hear Dr. Nick: The Incrementalist and his guests discuss what the future of healthcare looks like, how we will get there, and what it will take to improve healthcare for all.

This article was originally published on the Dr. Nick – The Incrementalist blog and is republished here with permission.