"The National Alliance for Health Information Technology is pushing for a voluntary, patient-controlled system of unique identifiers, calling it the 'only way to ensure safety and accuracy when exchanging medical information' through an electronic national network." according to Healthcare IT News.com. HIPAA requires HHS to publish a rule creating a national patient identifier, but Congress has refused to fund the issuance of this rule.
This publication also featured an interesting article observing that "70 percent of [a recent World Health Organization] forum audience agreed that the [U.S.] government should impose a national mandate for health information interoperability standards – the health equivalent of lowering interest rates – in order to lift the industry out its current doldrums. “The most important step is the development of standards and it’s the government’s role to do that,” said Keith Batchelder, chief executive officer of Genomic Healthcare Strategies, a consulting firm focused on personalized medicine. But in the case of the national patient identifier, Congress did mandate the creation of a standard but then backed off. That's one of the problems with statutory mandates. The other is that it's very difficult to change a law, and technology moves a lot faster than Congress. Why is it that banks could create technology standards on their own, but health care can't?
A Health Affairs blogger contends that consumer demand will fuel the growth of health information technology nicknamed Health 2.o. Why not? Consumer demand has sparked the growth of many technologies.