It remains to be seen what impact this language may have on further work on the development of a unique patient identifier. There are other steps that might also be taken in the meantime. The application of a unique patient identifier is consistent with NAHAM’s Public Policy Statement: Patient Identity Integrity (October 2015), restated below.
Patient Identity Integrity requires additional standardized data attributes in the absence of the universally adopted unique patient identifier.
The National Association for Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM) recognizes and supports patient safety as a national health priority. Patient identification errors through the registration process can delay patient care and increase the potential for patient harm. Long term downstream effects include increased financial liability, diminished reputation, and decreased physician and employee loyalty. Patient identity integrity (PII) ensures that healthcare access professionals identify and accurately match the right patient with his or her complete medical record, every time, in every provider setting. Ensuring the right patient, right record, every time, is the first critical step in providing patient care.
PII processes should be prioritized and standardized to include: principles that guide practice, policies and procedures, training and competency validation, standard scripting, defining acceptable forms of identification, naming conventions, search guidelines and algorithms, banding verification, establishing response guidelines for difficult situations, measuring and tracking duplicate records, and rapid response and resolution to errors.
NAHAM recognizes that current patient identification and matching procedures vary throughout the country. Using two patient identifiers with a combination of secondary identifiers is standard and compliant practice. Achieving the goal of eliminating patient identification errors nationally will require a unique patient identifier and/or a standardization of data capture as well as a standardized combination of data attributes that support Patient Identity Integrity.