The American Medical Informatics Association has come out in support of a proposed government-sponsored patient identification number to ease use of electronic medical records.
The board of the 3,200-member AMIA, based in Bethesda, Md., voted to back the position taken this summer by an affiliate of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers on creating a voluntary healthcare identifier.
The IEEE-USA, a 225,000-member Washington-based group, in June approved a recommendation that Congress give authority and funding to HHS and the National Committee on Health and Vital Statistics to develop and run a voluntary healthcare identifier system.
The IEEE-USA also called upon the government to provide strong criminal and civil penalties for violations of privacy and security regarding the database, as well as to create incentives to encourage its adoption and use.
Don Detmer, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the AMIA, said the initiative resembles a proposal adopted last year by the Health Information and Management Systems Society, a Chicago-based trade association of information technology vendors.
"We support both," said Detmer, a member of the Institute of Medicine and professor emeritus and professor of medical education in the health evaluation sciences department at the University of Virginia.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 called for the development of national identification numbers for patients, providers, health plans and employers, but HHS halted work on the patient identifier in the face of resistance from privacy advocates.
"It got caught up in almost a frenzy of publicity, and because of this, (then-) Vice President Gore pulled it off the table," Detmer said.
On Jan. 23, the CMS published a final rule under HIPAA on a national provider identifier that would create an ID number for all healthcare providers. When implemented, the rule will require all "covered entities" to use only the NPI to identify providers in standard transactions. Registration is to begin May 23, 2005, with final compliance required for most covered entities by May 27, 2007.