Imagine an identification number containing every iota of your health data – documenting every disease and ailment you’ve been treated for, every doctor you’ve seen – a number unique only to you. With such holistic data, the implications for improving patient care and reducing inefficiencies appear enormous.
Now imagine your personal health data peddled to pharmaceutical behemoths, research corporations and third-party miners, a place where you, in fact, are not in control of your own information. All of a sudden, things appear differently. The idea of unique patient identifiers (UPIs) is not a concept extracted from the next dystopian novel. It could very well be reality in the not-so-distant future. The question remaining, however, is whether or not the benefits of such technology outweigh constitutional privacy and patient trust concerns. Naturally, depending on whom you ask, the answer varies considerably.