In our conversation, Reider indicated that nothing ONC has recently undertaken amounts to any progress toward a national patient identifier.
"ONC is not working on national patient ID," Reider says. "ONC is working on understanding best practices regarding patient matching. They're two different topics. One topic, national patient ID, is a proposed solution. Other countries have employed that solution. That solution does not address all of the challenges of patient matching. Even in countries where there is a national patient ID, matching this patient to this record is still something that's necessary."
Instead, ONC's work is already producing a set of best practices for patient matching. It's still up to non-governmental U.S. organizations, such as CommonWell, to champion their own patient ID proposals, perhaps using ONC's work to get there a little faster.
No Software Without Bugs
The limits of ONC's software certification may be one of my biggest causes for concern given something I heard multiple times at HIMSS—that certified Meaningful Use Stage 2 software is currently riddled with bugs keeping implementations from proceeding smoothly.
"There is no such thing as software without bugs. No such thing," Reider says. "That's not a secret. The question is, how serious are those bugs? The certification program isn't a thorough, deep quality assurance process."