Unique Patient Identifiers Could Help Streamline Nation’s Health Information Technology Infrastructure

August 26, 2020

The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently submitted comments to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in response to its request for comments on improving patient identification and matching in the nation’s health information technology infrastructure.

In its comments, ASCO urges ONC to work across federal agencies and the private sector to develop a unique patient identifier (UPI). ASCO recommends that priority be given to technology that provides the highest level of data security, and that the input of patient groups and patient safety groups should be actively solicited and incorporated into the adopted UPI strategy.

ASCO acknowledges that there are real concerns regarding the safety and security of protected health information (PHI) and would not support the development of a UPI that fails to provide the highest safeguards for patient data. However, given the use of different health systems, the Association believes a UPI could benefit patients and health care providers by:

  • Improving patient safety
  • Decreasing costs
  • Increasing coordination of care
  • Improving efficiency in health systems’ operations

ASCO also believes a UPI would greatly reduce the burden of patient matching, reduce requirements for de-duplication, and lead to more reliable data in individual patient records—as well as registries—if the appropriate safeguards are in place.

Read the full comment letter.

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