CHIME National Patient ID Challenge

CHIME National Patient ID Challenge

Ensure 100% accuracy of every patient’s health info to reduce preventable medical errors and eliminate unnecessary hospital costs/resources. Read Overview...


The CHIME National Patient ID Challenge is a global competition aimed at incentivizing new, early-stage, and experienced innovators to accelerate the creation and adoption of a solution for ensuring 100 percent accuracy in identifying patients in the U.S.  Patients want the right treatment and providers want information about the right patient to provide the right treatment.  Patients also want to protect their privacy and feel secure that their identity is safe.

Accurate identification can greatly reduce the risk of preventable medical errors and significantly increase quality of care.  It can also drive out unnecessary costs by reducing inefficiency.  First and foremost, patient identification is about patient safety, and we need to get it 100% right the first time, and every time.

We believe the CHIME National Patient ID Challenge can make this happen once and for all.

The Problem

In the past, healthcare providers kept all their patients’ records in paper files.  If you went to a new provider, the only way for the information to be exchanged was through fax or regular mail.  There was no hope that in an emergency, the ER doctor could see what conditions you had or what medications you were already taking.  When you were sent to a specialist, sometimes they had a small amount of information sent over by your primary care physician, and often times not.

Over the last 20 years, many providers have converted their paper records to electronic records.  Efforts are underway to share information between providers (hospitals, primary care practices, nursing homes, etc.) so that, if given permission, they can see your health information to provide the best care possible.  

It turns out this is not easy.  Consider the number of John Smiths living in the same town, sometimes even under the same roof.  Now think about the number of John Smiths in a county, state or the nation. There are even many John Smiths or even John A. Smiths with the same birthday. What if John sometimes gives his name as Johnny Smith? Or perhaps his birth name is really Edward John Smith but he goes by John.

Healthcare organizations spend a lot of time using and perfecting complicated algorithms that use a lot of different pieces of information to ensure that the John A. Smith standing in front of them is the same John A. Smith found in their system. Trying to delete duplicate errors and match records from one healthcare provider to another for every patient takes an inordinate amount of time that could be spent focusing on prevention and treatment, not matching records. Because it is still so difficult to get records from other providers, patients often have x-rays and other tests repeated, which in some cases is harmful to the patient, and at the very least wastes time and money.

The information used for identification, which typically includes birthdate, Social Security Number and address, is collected by multiple people, and sent by regular and electronic mail between providers and billing companies. Theft of this personal information is much more difficult to recover from than theft of a national patient identifier. A stolen national patient identifier can simply be terminated and replaced with a new one. In contrast, a patient cannot replace their birthdate and they are likely not planning to move. Their stolen Social Security Number is tied to all sorts of financial and personal records that are now vulnerable to theft. In fact, it is technically illegal for Social Security Numbers to be used for health records, but it is done all the time. This challenge provides an opportunity to establish a more secure method of patient identification.

Unfortunately, even with all of this effort to try and match records as accurately as possible, in the absence of a national patient identifier, the current matching error rate is of great concern.

In an environmental scan in 2014, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology found that the best error rate is around 7%.  Seven out of 100 records are mismatched.  Perhaps the John A. Smith record found was not the right one.  This is pretty serious when you consider that the provider may unknowingly prescribe a medication that interacts poorly with a medication John is already on or cause him harm due to a condition he has.  Many patients cannot tell you accurately themselves what their prescriptions are or name all of their conditions. 

Worse still, the error rate is usually closer to 10 to 20 percent within a healthcare entity and it rises to 50 to 60 percent when entities exchange with each other. That’s just not good enough.  It’s not safe.  We need patients to be identified accurately 100 percent of the time. 

We know it is equally important to protect each and every patient’s privacy. Patients are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), but laws can only protect if they are followed, monitored and enforced; that has been very difficult to accomplish even with paper records. We think the development of a national patient identifier is actually an opportunity to enhance patient privacy.

What this challenge is not: This challenge is not directly about exchanging health information.  It is not a patient portal that lets patients look at all of their data in one place.  It is not a provider portal that lets providers look at all of a patient’s data in one place.   It will not fix all of the duplicate records in a health center’s system.  It will not find and link all the healthcare entities that have data for a patient. However, we believe that a viable and scalable solution to patient identification is an essential building block to achieving greater information exchange between providers. 

What this challenge is: Simply stated, this challenge is about privately, accurately and safely confirming a patient’s identity 100 percent of the time.

Why the CHIME National Patient ID Prize?

We believe that the technology to solve this problem is already available, but hasn’t been put together in a viable and scalable solution yet. And, in order for a patient identification system to work, we need all stakeholders—patients, providers, technology companies, the government and others—to agree on a standard way to accurately and safely identify patients. Imagine if online and storefront retail stores couldn’t quickly verify your credit card. How much more important is it then for patients throughout the nation to be quickly, privately, accurately and safely identified so that the appropriate healthcare treatment can be delivered. 

This challenge will enable the best solution for identifying patients to be developed and will provide all the stakeholders with the capability to start working toward implementing the solution once it is ready. This will result in a dramatic increase in safety and efficiency throughout the healthcare system.

The Challenge Breakthrough

CHIME Healthcare Innovation Trust is looking for the best plan, strategies and methodologies that will accomplish the following:

  • Easily and quickly identify patients
  • Achieve 100% accuracy in patient identification
  • Protect patient privacy
  • Protect patient identity
  • Achieve adoption by the vast majority of patients, providers, insurers, and other stakeholders
  • Scale to handle all patients in the U.S.

Read the Challenge Guidelines for complete rules and submission requirements.

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The CHIME Healthcare Innovation Trust, a CHIME organization, is an affiliate of CHIME, an executive organization dedicated to serving chief information officers and other senior healthcare IT leaders by providing a highly interactive, trusted environment enabling senior professional and industry leaders to collaborate; exchange best practices; address professional development needs; and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and healthcare in the communities they serve. Through the CHIME Healthcare Innovation Trust, CHIME enables its members and others to collaborate on innovations that improve the use of healthcare IT to enhance healthcare delivery. CHIME has more than 1,800 CIO members, representing approximately 80 percent of the U.S Healthcare market. The CHIME Foundation, an affiliate of the CHIME Healthcare Innovation Trust and CHIME, includes over 150 of the most prominent healthcare IT vendors, consultants, and professional services firms in the industry.

The challenge is a global competition aimed at incentivizing new, early-stage, and experienced innovators to develop a private, accurate and safe way of identifying patients.

There’s no standard for patient identification in the United States. Common practice today is to identify patients based on name and one or more personal identifiers, such as date of birth or street address. Unfortunately, name and date of birth offer no guarantee of accurate identification and often providers differ in how they record and store identifying information. As patients visit multiple providers and records are exchanged, ensuring accurate identification is essential. With the growth of electronic health records, however, there is a greater risk of error if the bits and bytes don’t match up.

Patient identification is the act of being able to identify the person who is seeking or in need of care. This is not as simple as asking the patient, who may be unconscious or otherwise unable to provide accurate information, or relying on a health insurance card, which may be incorrect or fraudulent. 

Patient matching is the act of correctly matching a patient to his or her medical record, both within a singular healthcare entity and across entities when information needs to be shared.

Ensuring that we get patient identification right is a critical first step toward solving the problem of patient matching. This challenge is solely focused on patient identification. There are other industry efforts underway looking at algorithms to address patient matching.

Consider Harris County Hospital District. In 2011, hospital district officials found 3.4 million patients in the database. There were 249,213 instances where patients shared the same first and last name. There were nearly 70,000 instances where two or more patients shared the same name and date of birth. They found 2,488 people named Maria Garcia; 231 of whom had the same birthday.

In a 2012 study, nearly 20 percent of CHIME members reported that they could trace an adverse medical event to inaccurate patient identification and matching. Intermountain Healthcare officials report spending between $4 million and $5 million annually to improve patient identification accuracy rates. In a 2014 report, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology noted that every case of misidentification costs the Mayo Clinic at least $1,200.

Solving this problem can have a positive impact on patient safety by ensuring that providers are making decisions based on the patient’s actual medical record. It will, for instance, reduce the risk of medication errors. And, a solution will help reduce costs by eliminating wasteful procedures that are attributed to improper patient identification.

In order to electronically facilitate connecting patients to their health care records across the care continuum, providers must be able to have systems that accurately match patients to other records in different places.  The lack of a consistent patient identification strategy is the most significant challenge inhibiting the safe and secure electronic exchange of health information.  As our healthcare system begins to realize the innately transformational capabilities of health IT, moving toward nationwide health information exchange, this essential core functionality – consistency in accurately identifying patients – must be addressed.

Patients are more mobile today than ever before, with multiple options to seek care. At the same time, providers are accelerating their ability to exchange records from one setting to another. CHIME believes that patient identification is a foundational building block to the industry achieving true interoperability. It will also help to ensure that a
patient’s identity remains safe and secure. Knowing that we have the right patient matched with the right information is the first step toward effectively protecting and securing identities and information.

To start with, the federal government is currently prohibited from spending public funds on the development of a national patient identifier. So, the private sector needs to step up. There was a time when manual processes could reduce the accuracy gap that existed. That’s no longer true with electronic health records. The technologies needed to solve this problem are available. This challenge will enable the best solution for identifying patients to surface and allow all the stakeholders to start working toward using a solution once it is ready.

Although relatively young, HeroX, which was co-founded in 2013 by XPRIZE CEO Peter Diamandis, has set a high bar for running crowdsourcing campaigns and for inspiring innovation. The HeroX platform provides for an open and transparent method of communicating Challenge guidelines and judging criteria. More importantly, incentive prize competitions like those offered through XPRIZE and HeroX have a proven track record of developing innovative solutions to highly complex problems under accelerated time frames.

CHIME Healthcare Innovation Trust is open to partnering with organizations that share its vision for improving patient care and transforming healthcare delivery.

Any individual or any organization anywhere in the world can enter the challenge. We are looking for the most innovative solution that meets the criteria as outlined in the challenge guidelines. Interested innovators can register to participate at www.herox.com/PatientIDChallenge.

The challenge will take place in two rounds. First, there is the Concept Blitz Round. Innovators can submit their concept design ideas by April 27, 2016, and be eligible to win a $30,000 prize. Up to three top concepts will be awarded during that phase. The second round is the Innovation Round, which is the final round of the challenge. One award winner will be chosen from the entries and will be eligible for the $1 million prize. Guidelines and judging criteria for both rounds are listed at www.herox.com/PatientIDChallenge/guidelines.

No. All submissions must be in English. Additionally, all challenge-related communication will be in English.

The use case scenarios need not be overly complicated. Think in terms of yourself presenting for health care services. Examples:
Use Case 1: arrival at primary care provider for routine care with photo ID.
Use Case 2: arrival at primary care provider for routine care without any identification.
Use Case 3: presenting at emergency room unconscious with photo ID and family member available.
Use Case 4: presenting at ER with family member but no photo ID.

These are just a few basic examples of the types of use cases we're looking for. The use cases you provide should range from very simple to much more complex.

You will be required to provide identifying information as part of the online submission form. However, as noted in the guidelines, your proposal document must be anonymous. You must place the title of your submission into the footer of every page on your proposal document; no logos, names, or other markings that can be used to identify the proposing team or any team members are allowed on any of the pages.

One of the primary goals of the Challenge is to ensure that the winning solution can be implemented across the healthcare community.  Respecting the fact that innovators may have pre-existing intellectual property, the Challenge permits innovators to retain the value of that existing intellectual property, but on a going forward basis is requiring that any new intellectual property created for the Challenge as part of the submission will be provided on a royalty-free basis.  If an innovator wants to make pre-existing intellectual property available in the solution for a fee, they will need to specify those terms in the submission.  Please keep in mind that the criteria for judging the solution includes both the ability to adopt and scale the solution in the marketplace, so financial or economic barriers that may not work to achieve these criteria will be judged accordingly.

Innovators may reference the name of the Challenge, "CHIME National Patient ID Challenge", in written and oral statements to the public for the purpose of communicating their participation in the Challenge.  Innovators may not use the "CHIME National Patient ID Challenge" logo.

In the spring of 2016, CHIME Healthcare Innovation Trust and HeroX will announce winners of the Concept Blitz Round. Innovation Round submissions are due by January 15, 2017 at 11:59 pm ET. Judging will take place between January 16 and April 18, 2017. The $1 million winner is targeted to be announced on April 19, 2017.

Yes, but it’s quick and easy. Just click the “Join Us” button at the top of the page and follow the instructions to complete your registration. All you need to provide is your name and email address.

If you have a question not answered in the FAQ, we recommend that you post it in the Forum where a moderator will respond to you. This way, others who may have the same question will be able to see it. Alternatively, you can contact the challenge creator by clicking the "contact challenge creators" link beneath the CHIME logo to the right of the Introduction text on the Challenge Overview page.