Rand study touts benefits of unique patient identification system

A Rand Corporation study finds that the use of unique patient identification numbers would help improve healthcare quality and efficiency.
The creation of such an identification system has a price tag of about $11 billion, but researchers believe it would return even more in benefits to the nation’s healthcare system.
A decade ago federal legislation supported the creation of such a system, but implementation has been delayed by privacy and security issues.
“Establishing a system of unique patient identification numbers would help the nation to enjoy the full benefits of electronic medical records and improve the quality of medical care,” said Richard Hillestad, the study’s lead author and a senior principal researcher at Rand, a nonprofit research organization. “The alternative is to rely on a system that produces too many errors and puts patients’ privacy at risk.”
As patient records become computerized, there has become more of a need for a system that would make it easier to retrieve records across varying systems such as those used by doctors and hospitals.

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