Creating National Biometric System for Patient Matching Will Threaten Privacy and Security

Monday, October 8, 2018
By Paul Martin

ActivistPost.com
OCTOBER 8, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.—The Pew Research Center last week released a new public opinion report on “patient matching,” a term which is simply a less-offensive moniker for “national patient ID,” says Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF).

Pew led off the study with this dubious claim about developing a national system of patient identification: “Enhanced Patient Matching Is Critical to Achieving Full Promise of Digital Health Records.” However, problems abound with both the idea of pushing a national patient ID strategy to link patient data and the proposed use of a national infrastructure to collect and store the biometrics of Americans, such as their DNA, fingerprints or iris scans.

At an event with the study’s authors, Pew claimed “many of the participants agreed that getting organizations to settle on one unified national strategy for records matching is more crucial than agreeing on one technology,” Politico’s “Morning eHealth” newsletter reported.

However, CCHF president and co-founder Twila Brase doubts the methodology and questions the extremely small size of the survey group—just 95 respondents in 11 focus groups in five cities—especially for a topic so significant and having so much impact on patient privacy and consent rights.

“Why such a large claim from the opinions of such a small group of Americans?” Brase asked. “Studies show Americans want privacy and are concerned they have none. As reported in ‘Big Brother in the Exam Room,’ a Black Book survey of 12,090 consumers in late 2016 found 87 percent unwilling to comprehensively divulge all of their information to their doctors due to privacy concerns and 81 percent concerned that information on chronic conditions is being shared beyond their chosen doctor and payer. Their concerns are valid. Under the HIPAA disclosure rule, their consent is not required for most data-sharing, unless a stronger state law exists. The Black Book survey mimics the concerns found in the 2000 Gallup survey of 1,000 people. Imagine how much greater the intrusion, if every patient medical record from birth to death could be linked through a national identifier.

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