Great article about the importance of reliable patient identification and record matching. Corrupted data caused by identification issues, duplicate records, etc. can greatly impact patient safety and healthcare costs. RightPatient is proud to be working with innovative providers like Northwell Health to address this critical issue!
U.S. citizens already have a 9-digit unique identification number. It’s called a social security number. Yes, concerns about identity theft are real and serious. But Americans already readily provide our social security number on just about any online or printed form that requests/requires it. We are exposed in this way already, whether we like it or not. In the meantime, patient identity errors and related medical risks and errors abound and patient-matching problems persist and our “best brains” can’t come up with a workable solution.
Your Social Security number may not be as unique as you think. According to some studies, the odds are 1 in 7 that someone else has used your number at some point. Are you willing to play those odds when you go in for surgery? And an additional 20 million people use more than one Social Security number. (https://www.nbcnews.com/technolog/odds-someone-else-has-your-ssn-one-7-6C10406347). As it turns out, SSN is a lousy way to identify an individual.
This is definitely a problem. But let’s not forget the human factor.
I took my mother in to one of her several doctors during her treatment for salivary gland cancer. The doctor came into the office, picked up the file that had been brought in. Glancing over the top of the open file, he frowned. You’ve lost a great deal of weight. Mom (all of maybe 110 lbs, down from 120) and I, also frowned. Turns out it was the file for ‘Carl Smith’, a 300 lb. man, not ‘Carol Smith’. AND THERE WAS A PHOTO IN THE FILE.
Still smh over that one.
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