Again and again, the words we use to describe healthcare and the technology being deployed are loaded—with ambiguity, double meanings, and potholes waiting to trip up the next set of policy makers.
In 2013, another such word will be "identity." There is an effort, much needed, to uniquely identify patients as the healthcare system moves from fee-for-service to population health and accountable care. But no one can agree on which set of unique identifiers should be used to determine that unique identification.
Should it be one factor or two? Biometric or token-based? Can someone be anonymous yet unique? Identity technology mavens talk about "relying parties." How can we translate tech talk like that into something that doctors and patients can understand?
Do you own your identity, or is it something that someone else is entrusted with? It depends on how you define the word identity.
It's the adoption of health IT that allows caregivers and patients to become better owners of their data. But our headlong rush to adopt this technology is about to run into some profound hurdles that will make EMR vs. EHR look like a child's game.
Whether you rely on the Pareto principle (a.k.a. the 80/20 rule) or just KISS, we need to always remember what problem we're trying to solve.