WEDI survey finds little backing for health plan identifier

Health plans and other stakeholders see little value in using a unique health plan identifier (HPID) within electronic transactions, according to a recent survey from The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI).

Between Aug. 20 and Sept. 5, WEDI polled 262 respondents, including health plans, providers, third-party administrators, clearinghouses and software vendors. Only 15 percent of respondents said they see value in the unique identifier within electronic transactions adopted under HIPAA.

And just 24 percent said they have no concerns about implementing HPID at the same time as other mandates. Fifty-five percent said implementation of the HPID would be as complex or more complex than the National Provider Identifier (NPI). Thirty-three percent of respondents could not even guess how much implementing HPID would cost.

A rule published in September 2012 requires health plans to obtain HPIDs by Nov. 5, 2014. Small health plans are exempt for a year, but all covered entities must use HPIDs in the standard transaction by Nov. 7, 2016.

WEDI President and CEO Devin Jopp said the survey illustrates the lack of industry backing for HPID and supports its recommendation that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services modify the rule.

"The industry understands the intent of the original HIPAA statute was to solve routing issues that existed more than 15 years ago, however, the industry has resolved those issues, with special attention to privacy and security risk mitigation," WEDI Chairman Jim Daly wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

"WEDI is concerned that in order to enumerate health plans, both government and commercial funds will be required, diverting those dollars from being used to achieve healthcare goals of greater quality of care, greater patient safety and reducing costs," Daly wrote.

Patient matching is considered a serious safety issue, though the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT made clear the national patient identifier was off the table during an update on its patient data-matching initiative.

Arizona, however, has made a study of the best ways to improve patient matching part of its Health IT Roadmap 2.0 from the state's Strategic Enterprise Technology Office.

To learn more:
- check out the full survey
- read the announcement