Health Information Management

Study examines costs, benefits of unique patient identifiers

HIM-HIPAA Insider, October 27, 2008

Providing every person with a unique patient identification number would be worth the high price tag, according to an October 20 RAND press release. Benefits of the potentially $11 billion effort include:
  • A reduction in medical errors
  • Simplified electronic record use
  • Increased efficiency
  • Increased patient privacy
"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," Richard Hillestad, senior principal researcher at RAND and study author, said in the press release. "The alternative is to rely on a system that produces too many errors and puts patients' privacy at risk."
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