Up at 5AM: The 5AM Solutions Blog

RIP SOPA (Hopefully?), Hello National Patient Identifier (Again!)

Posted on Thu, Jan 26, 2012 @ 06:00 AM

SOPA DeconstructedSOPA certainly made a big name for itself over the past few weeks. The Stop Online Piracy Act, and it’s Senate sister bill PIPA (Protect IP Act) has been halted in both the House and the Senate after a day of protest from thousands of websites worldwide, including Google, Wikipedia, and Reddit. These web giants encouraged their users to stand up and write their representatives urging them to vote against this nasty piece of legislation which would enable censorship over the internet by private corporations who believe that foreign websites are linking and hosting content that they own.

So the bills are defunct and the protest is over...at least for now. So why am I talking about it?  Because I believe this was a great victory for the power of people coming together and voicing their opinions. Even the bill’s sponsor, Lamar Smith, backed off the bill citing a need to re-evaluate it from the ground up.

Let me say that I don’t want to talk much more SOPA, on how piracy is bad, or how SOPA gave undue power to private corporations without really addressing the underlying issue. Instead, I want to talk about the ability for people to come together en masse and have an immediate impact upon policies that we want, or don’t want, implemented in our country.

Let me talk once again about the National Patient Identifier.

Several months ago I wrote a blog post about the National Patient Identifier, highlighting the complexities of exchanging health data in a de-centralized identification system.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has three stages in order to reach “meaningful use” of Electronic Health Records. Stage 1, which sets the baseline for how all the information is captured, ends at the end of this year.  This is a critical period for deciding all sorts of basics that will lead the discussion for the next two stages.

National Patient ID CardThe notion of a national patient identifier is a complex one, but it is not one that should be off the table. However, the Federal government still cannot spend any amount of money into research about using a national identifying database for health information. Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran a debate style article that highlighted both sides of the issue. But the point that I took out of it was that the conversation was being had.

It seems ridiculous that we can have all the conversation we want about the topic in the private world, but the Federal government puts their fingers in their ears and says “we don’t even want to touch the issue”. It’s childish. There are supporters and opponents for nearly everything, and they all get a voice. Except this issue.

The power of people to come together is important. The structure of our health system is being built, and all options should be on the table. The power of people coming together has shown to have a lot of impact. If you are reading this, than I encourage you to write a representative, asking them to allow research into a National Patient Identifier. Even if it nothing changes, we will know that we made the right choice. SOPA brought people together stopping something.

Let's get together and try to start something.

-Zach Melnick, 5AM Solutions

Tags: family health history, electronic health records, national patient identifier, electronic health record, SOPA

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