Americans have long been concerned about privacy and have never supported a National Identity Card of any kind. But when it comes to electronic health records, we might have to give that a second thought. Right now Health and Human Services is taking comments on Conditions for Trusted Exchange (CTE) of Electronic Healthcare Care records within a Nationwide Health Information Network. They are trying to determine how to verify that your health care records are indeed Your Health Care records when they transfer information between parties.
The complexity of verifying personal identity without biometric authentication on a national level is mind-boggling. How many thousands of John Smiths and James Johnsons are there in this country? According to Howmanyofme.com there are 45,354 people named John Smith in the United States and 35,933 people in the U.S. named James Johnson. What is the probability that hundreds of those individuals also share the same birthdate?
The HHS is recommending a goal of achieving a 99.9% match rate, but no matter how sophisticated the demographic matching algorithm might be, no CTE could be expected to achieve a specificity of 99.9% when dealing with the population of the whole country. Adding some sort of biometrics, whether it be iris scans, hand scans or finger prints, will add the needed level of identification that is mandatory in life and death situations.
If every person had a medical card, which carried electronic identification data, they could have access to their medical records wherever they went. They could give access to new medical practitioners while avoiding the need to fill out the packet of forms at each appointment.
Today thousands of individuals who work in private industry and government have such a card that allows them access to the building they work in and controls what they are able to access on the computer systems. Why should we not demand this level of access control and proper identification for our most precious national commodity—our health.