Monday, October 31, 2005

Rikki Don't Lose That Number

Further steps toward the dreaded patient identifier here in this report from the Commission on Systemic Interoperability. We know it is going to happen, we know that it really should happen, but when it actually does happen, be prepared for an enormous backlash from patients.

The group urged building on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to develop national standards for authentication, authorization and security to gain consumers' confidence for connectivity. The standard could include a unique patient identifier, and Congress should strengthen protections under HIPAA by authorizing federal criminal penalties against those who intentionally access protected data without authorization, according to the commission.

"It is clear that electronic records, appropriately secured, provide a great deal more confidentiality than paper records. But the patchwork of often contradictory state laws, rules and cases preclude the development of a national health information network," said Scott Wallace, commission chair and CEO of the National Alliance for Health IT, an industry group. The commission recommended that AHIC begin work toward an interoperable drug record for all Americans by 2010 as a breakthrough case.

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