A National Patient Identifier Would Be Totally Awesome!

Fun Fact:  Did you know that congress actually has a gag order preventing Health and Human Services(HHS) from even discussing the idea of a national health identifier?  Well fear no more... word on the street is that this might finally change.

America's multi-payer system is already complex enough. We also have to contend with a lack of a national health identifier?  Certainly national health identifiers have issues, but it is still a monumental step in the right direction.  While a national patient identifier will not fully solve the patient linking and matching problem, it will go quite a long way in improving the status quo.  I've spent way too much time thinking about how such an identifier should be constructed and issued.  Here are some main points:

  • It should be numeric so it is easy to enter via a number pad/telephone.
  • It should, in-part, be defined by the end user.  For example the first 10 digits could be someone's phone number
  • It should contain a check digit similar to credit card numbers and national provider identifiers (NPIs)
To this end, here is a short proposal on such an identifier.  While I think it should be recognized by the federal government, perhaps we should find a way to have it issued in a decentralized way.  Below is a link to a technical proposal entitled Universal Health Identifier (UHI):



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