Patient identifier

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A national unique patient identifier also (unique patient identifier (UPI)) would link all patient data obtained from many sites, from physician or hospitals where a patient receives care.


Obtaining patient data is a task seems to be easy, but when the data is distributed in different places ,the task will be more complicated and be more and more difficult [1]. Multiple identifiers lead to fragmented medical records, duplicate tests, increased costs, delayed treatment and resulted in poor outcomes. In the absence of a UPI, patient matching algorithms can used to link records in disparate systems but this approach, while common, is frought with risks.

UPI is become important and critical to help in effective use of Electronic Health Record (EHR) to enable the patient and his/her different provider to access the information regardless information system they use ,Collecting and integrating all medical information for each person easily with less errors in one place, UPI can be used as a supporting tool for search development so that the main 2 functions of UPI are individual identification and information identification


UPI should meet some criteria such as being Canonical – everyone has only one UPI, Unique – no more than one person has the same identifier, not disclose any personal information, Permanent – will never be re‐used, Ubiquitous all citizen in the country have UPI [2].

For meaningful use of UPI there should be powerful technology infrastructure which includes computer systems, communication network and powerful software applications for managing and maintaining the database which contain UPIs and all data related to it.

But there are some issues which hider the adoption of UPI as the cost of this project, privacy and security issue and due to that some people refused the concept of UPI as they consider it may be a tool for disclosing their medical information once get the patient identifier number, some political also argue the idea of UPI as they say the project will cost a lot of money without a great benefit .

Voluntary Universal Healthcare Identifier

the solution for this problem may be using voluntary identifier, the Voluntary Universal Healthcare Identifier (VUHID) model provides enhanced privacy protections that allows each individual to designate components of his or her medical record to be kept private or shared on a limited basis[3].

So I see VUHID will be good solution for making people accept the idea of UPI in optional way.


  1. Edward H. Shortliffe EditorJames J. Cimino Associate Editor, Biomedical Informatics Computer Application in Health Care and Biomedicine, Third Edition
  2. last accessed 30/1/2010
  3. Elephant in the Middle of the Room: The Need for a National Patient Identifier Last accessed February 26, 2009

submitted by: Wessam Adly