The federal government should use patients' Social Security numbers as unique patient identifiers to speed electronic healthcare information exchange, a coalition of healthcare information groups is recommending.
The summit of healthcare information groups also called for uniform standards to protect the confidentiality of individual electronic patient records. In addition, the groups want uniform standards for vocabulary and data to simplify administration of patient records and ease research of patient outcomes.
Paul Tang, M.D., chairman of the summit's program committee and a past chairman of the Computer-based Patient Records Institute, said it's necessary for the government and private-sector companies and organizations to adopt their recommendations to spur the use of computerized information technology by providers, payers and others.
"As long as we are shackled in the United States to the paper record, then providers will be shackled," Tang said.
In making their recommendations, the groups are responding to tight deadlines in the federal health-insurance reform law enacted in August that will require a national electronic healthcare data infrastructure to be operating early in the next century.
Groups participating in the summit last week in Washington included the CPRI, the American Health Information Management Association, the Healthcare Information and the Management Systems Society.