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Biometrics and referential matching can solve patient ID problem, Verato CEO says

Verato CEO Mark LaRow lauds the recent decision by the U.S. House of Representatives to pass an amendment enabling the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support the establishment of a national patient identifier with funding and research in a company blog post. The important aspect, however, is not the creation of a national identifier, but the recognition of the need for innovation, he says.

In the aftermath of the House vote, healthcare industry groups urged the Senate to follow the House’s lead and remove the UPI funding ban.

Noting that 30 percent of patient records are estimated to be inaccurate, incomplete, or out-of-date, LaRow argues that a Universal Patient Identifier (UPI) is not the solution, in and of itself, but may be a part of it, along with referential matching and biometrics.

The creation of a UPI has been resisted by Congress due to privacy and tracking concerns, which biometrics and referential matching can mitigate by returning some control to individuals.

UPIs will not soon solve the problem of patient matching, LaRow says, because it will take close to a dozen years to set up the system and assign credentials, they will be expensive to distribute and maintain, and it will take a whole generation to for them to permeate the existing records.

If incremental additions of biometrics or smartphone identifiers can address the patient identification gap at a lower cost and with less privacy risk, it may not be worthwhile for the U.S. to invest in a UPI system, he concludes.