ONC weighs pros and cons of national patient identifier


Jessica Kim Cohen

Experts convened by HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology clashed over the role a national patient identifier could play in improving patient-matching among healthcare organizations.

A national patient identifier—which would give patients permanent, unique identification numbers—has been banned by Congress for decades on account of privacy and security concerns, but the discussion has been reopened in recent years, in part due to pressure from health IT groups.

“We believe there are a few things that absolutely need to be done as soon as possible,” said Russell Branzell, CEO and president of the College of Healthcare Information Executives, at a working session on patient identity and patient matching that ONC hosted on Monday. “One is to continue...

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