The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) announced today a National Patient ID Challenge, a $1 million crowdsourcing competition to incentivize the private sector to develop a fail-safe patient identifying solution that links patients to their medical records.
Partnering with HeroX, a crowdsourcing innovation platform, on the initiative, CHIME aims to encourage innovators to help solve the complex problem of patient misidentification There is currently no universal standard to 100 percent accurately identify patients and match them to their medical records. And, since 1999, the federal government is prohibited from spending public funds on the development of a national patient identifier.
“Patient mismatching and our inability to accurately identify patients across the continuum of care has been an ongoing problem for the industry. Now is the time to fix this problem. We have an ethical responsibility to fix the problem in front us and we’ve done this in a unique way,” CHIME President and CEO Russell Branzell said during a press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 18 announcing the challenge. “It shouldn’t be our expectation to ask government to fix all our problems; to come up with new laws, legislation or guidelines. At some point, we have to stand up and say we can do this ourselves.” Branzell continued, “We are optimistic we will find a solution that is scalable, affordable, private and secure.”
Karen DeSalvo, M.D., National Coordinator for Health IT, also attended the press conference and thanked CHIME for its leadership on the issue of patient identification and for “stepping into the breach to take on touch challenges.”
DeSalvo pointed out that CHIME’s Patient ID Challenge was one example of how ONC, as a federal partner, and the private sector worked together to advance health IT and create “an open, connected community of health, one in which information is available when and where it matters.”
“Even as we at ONC have been tackling this critical underpinning of patient identification and concurrently working with the private sector and others to see that we are developing models that get us to a best place of patient matching, we also know that there are opportunities for the private sector to advance in this space and to think of “out of the box” opportunities for us to do a better job of making sure that the right information is wrapped around the right person and community,” she said.
HeroX has been tapped to run the year-long competition, which is now open for innovators to submit solutions. In the spring, CHIME and HeroX will announce participants moving forward on to the Concept Blitz Round. Innovators will then develop and refine their ideas for the Final Innovation Round and CHIME will announce the $1 million winner in February 2017.
Concerns about patient safety have been the driving force in ongoing discussions about the need for a national patient identification standard. In a 2014 report about the issue, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) found the best error rate among healthcare providers is around 7 percent and the error rate is typically closer to 10 to 20 percent within healthcare entities and rises to 50 to 60 percent when entities exchange information with each other.
Tejal Gandhi, M.D., president and CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), who also spoke at the press announcement, said avoidable medical errors and adverse events represent a serious health issue that causes thousands of deaths and untold harm each year.
“Patient safety is about eliminating preventable harm, and I’m here to support this initiative because patient misidentification is a preventable event. It is a situation we can correct and we hope this initiative will helps us find an important part of the solution,” Gandhi said.
Mark Probst, vice president and CIO at Intermountain Healthcare, a 23-hospital health system in Salt Lake City, Utah, said at the press conference that Intermountain spends about $4 million to $5 million annually on technologies and processes to try to ensure proper patient identification.
From the health system perspective, Probst highlighted several ways the lack of a 100-percent accurate patient identification standard impacts patient care, such as a woman who has a mammogram and the results of that mammogram end up in the wrong patient record.
“It all comes back to our inability to positively identify an individual in the system. Now is the time for a national patient ID. We all know there is politics around this issue and that’s why I’m so proud of CHIME for taking the leadership from a non-governmental perspective and as the private sector to try to get a challenge out there and try to find a positive way to identify patients,” Probst said.
Open innovation challenges have a history of advancing innovation and innovation challenges and crowdsourcing can be “incredible tools to spur breakthroughs,” said Nidhi Chaudhary, vice president of challenge success at HeroX.
“New ideas and reinventions of old ideas can come from anywhere and from anyone. It’s from the crowd that we can find the most innovative solutions. Congratulations to the entire CHIME team for their courage and leadership in issuing this challenge and to all the competitors, game on,” she said.
During the press conference, Probst with Intermountain also spoke about the opportunities for digitized health data moving forward. “Meaningful Use has been really successful in some ways, and that is getting electronic medical records into the industry. The growth around EHRs (electronic health records) has been unprecedented and there is now way more digitized data than ever before. This opens up a host of opportunity, and at Intermountain we’ve had tremendous success with increasing the quality of care and lowering the costs. And by putting this platform and foundation in place as a country, we’ve been able to get ourselves much better positioned within the MU program. We now have these systems to do some pretty amazing things,” he said.
DeSalvo also tied the private sector’s work in the area of patient identification to the larger movement of advancing health IT and the ONC’s Interoperability Roadmap.
“Our work at ONC has been to steer the policy and direction, so we are pushing to open data and so we’re seeing the opportunity exists to lay out a roadmap, a nationwide interoperability roadmap, that is part of our delivery system reform effort that talks about who will do what by when to see that we can get to a place where we have an open, connected community of health.”
She continued, “The final Interoperability Roadmap report calls on us, as the federal partner, to do what we can, but it also calls on the private sector to make a commitment to be a part of this new future and do it in such a way that we’re always putting the consumer at the center.”
“This patient identification challenge is a perfect example of how people and organizations, like CHIME, can step up and show leadership and help us to get to a place where we all know we want to be.