With all the renewed talk lately about the need for a national patient identifier in healthcare, Andrew Gettinger, MD, chief medical information officer in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, prefers the term “individual safety identifier” instead.

Regardless of what he calls it, the driving force behind such an identifier is patient safety, according to Gettinger, given that identifying patients and accurately matching their electronic health records as they move across healthcare organizations continues to be a daunting challenge.

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