Who are you, really? It’s not a trivial question, and it’s one that is being made far more complex and significant with the rapid adoption of wearable Health Tech devices, electronic health records (EHR), and digitized medicine practices. More than ever before, it is important to make sure that you are identified correctly by physicians and other healthcare workers so that your information is not confused with that of another person. At the same time, the promises of the benefits of Big Data analysis of health data for larger populations requires that the individual records be reliably “de-identified” to protect it from unauthorized use.
TASCET is a company that thinks it may have the answer. They already help enterprise customers manage digital information risks by providing unique identifiers for employees and customers. They want to provide a similar service for the healthcare industry, in the form of a Unique Patient Identifier (UPI). The concept is to create a system of 16-digit ID numbers, where one is assigned permanently to an individual. The system requires minimal personal information to identify the individual, yet prevents more than one number being assigned to a single patient. Unlike the widely-used Social Security number, the UPI will be used only for healthcare applications, so that it does not provide identity thieves with access to broader information about the person. The system relies on a combination of biographic and biometric data to uniquely identify an individual, and this information can generally be confirmed when the patient is present.
TASCET is working with a number of major healthcare systems to develop the system, and expects to have the first implementations active before the end of the year. As stated at the top, it’s a major challenge to create a completely reliable and accurate system, but with an estimated 40 million Social Security numbers already used by more than one person in the U.S., it’s clear that a better system is needed. The fact that this system is designed from the ground up to provide security and reliability may mean that it can do the job better.