CHIME National Patient ID Challenge

Ensure 100% accuracy of every patient’s health info to reduce preventable medical errors and eliminate unnecessary hospital costs/resources. Read Overview...


The CHIME National Patient ID Challenge is a global competition aimed at incentivizing new, early-stage, and experienced innovators to accelerate the creation and adoption of a solution for ensuring 100 percent accuracy in identifying patients in the U.S.  Patients want the right treatment and providers want information about the right patient to provide the right treatment.  Patients also want to protect their privacy and feel secure that their identity is safe.

Accurate identification can greatly reduce the risk of preventable medical errors and significantly increase quality of care.  It can also drive out unnecessary costs by reducing inefficiency.  First and foremost, patient identification is about patient safety, and we need to get it 100% right the first time, and every time.

We believe the CHIME National Patient ID Challenge can make this happen once and for all.

The Problem

In the past, healthcare providers kept all their patients’ records in paper files.  If you went to a new provider, the only way for the information to be exchanged was through fax or regular mail.  There was no hope that in an emergency, the ER doctor could see what conditions you had or what medications you were already taking.  When you were sent to a specialist, sometimes they had a small amount of information sent over by your primary care physician, and often times not.

Over the last 20 years, many providers have converted their paper records to electronic records.  Efforts are underway to share information between providers (hospitals, primary care practices, nursing homes, etc.) so that, if given permission, they can see your health information to provide the best care possible.  

It turns out this is not easy.  Consider the number of John Smiths living in the same town, sometimes even under the same roof.  Now think about the number of John Smiths in a county, state or the nation. There are even many John Smiths or even John A. Smiths with the same birthday. What if John sometimes gives his name as Johnny Smith? Or perhaps his birth name is really Edward John Smith but he goes by John.

Healthcare organizations spend a lot of time using and perfecting complicated algorithms that use a lot of different pieces of information to ensure that the John A. Smith standing in front of them is the same John A. Smith found in their system. Trying to delete duplicate errors and match records from one healthcare provider to another for every patient takes an inordinate amount of time that could be spent focusing on prevention and treatment, not matching records. Because it is still so difficult to get records from other providers, patients often have x-rays and other tests repeated, which in some cases is harmful to the patient, and at the very least wastes time and money.

The information used for identification, which typically includes birthdate, Social Security Number and address, is collected by multiple people, and sent by regular and electronic mail between providers and billing companies. Theft of this personal information is much more difficult to recover from than theft of a national patient identifier. A stolen national patient identifier can simply be terminated and replaced with a new one. In contrast, a patient cannot replace their birthdate and they are likely not planning to move. Their stolen Social Security Number is tied to all sorts of financial and personal records that are now vulnerable to theft. In fact, it is technically illegal for Social Security Numbers to be used for health records, but it is done all the time. This challenge provides an opportunity to establish a more secure method of patient identification.

Unfortunately, even with all of this effort to try and match records as accurately as possible, in the absence of a national patient identifier, the current matching error rate is of great concern.

In an environmental scan in 2014, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology found that the best error rate is around 7%.  Seven out of 100 records are mismatched.  Perhaps the John A. Smith record found was not the right one.  This is pretty serious when you consider that the provider may unknowingly prescribe a medication that interacts poorly with a medication John is already on or cause him harm due to a condition he has.  Many patients cannot tell you accurately themselves what their prescriptions are or name all of their conditions. 

Worse still, the error rate is usually closer to 10 to 20 percent within a healthcare entity and it rises to 50 to 60 percent when entities exchange with each other. That’s just not good enough.  It’s not safe.  We need patients to be identified accurately 100 percent of the time. 

We know it is equally important to protect each and every patient’s privacy. Patients are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), but laws can only protect if they are followed, monitored and enforced; that has been very difficult to accomplish even with paper records. We think the development of a national patient identifier is actually an opportunity to enhance patient privacy.

What this challenge is not: This challenge is not directly about exchanging health information.  It is not a patient portal that lets patients look at all of their data in one place.  It is not a provider portal that lets providers look at all of a patient’s data in one place.   It will not fix all of the duplicate records in a health center’s system.  It will not find and link all the healthcare entities that have data for a patient. However, we believe that a viable and scalable solution to patient identification is an essential building block to achieving greater information exchange between providers. 

What this challenge is: Simply stated, this challenge is about privately, accurately and safely confirming a patient’s identity 100 percent of the time.

Why the CHIME National Patient ID Prize?

We believe that the technology to solve this problem is already available, but hasn’t been put together in a viable and scalable solution yet. And, in order for a patient identification system to work, we need all stakeholders—patients, providers, technology companies, the government and others—to agree on a standard way to accurately and safely identify patients. Imagine if online and storefront retail stores couldn’t quickly verify your credit card. How much more important is it then for patients throughout the nation to be quickly, privately, accurately and safely identified so that the appropriate healthcare treatment can be delivered. 

This challenge will enable the best solution for identifying patients to be developed and will provide all the stakeholders with the capability to start working toward implementing the solution once it is ready. This will result in a dramatic increase in safety and efficiency throughout the healthcare system.

The Challenge Breakthrough

CHIME Healthcare Innovation Trust is looking for the best plan, strategies and methodologies that will accomplish the following:

  • Easily and quickly identify patients
  • Achieve 100% accuracy in patient identification
  • Protect patient privacy
  • Protect patient identity
  • Achieve adoption by the vast majority of patients, providers, insurers, and other stakeholders
  • Scale to handle all patients in the U.S.

Read the Challenge Guidelines for complete rules and submission requirements.

Updates (27)

Judging Final Submissions, Updated Timeline

March 24, 2017, 7 a.m. PDT by Matthew Weinstock

Hello innovators!

As you know, we are in the critical home stretch for the National Patient ID Challenge. We were thrilled to see a number of submissions come in for the final innovation round, which officially closed on March 1.

We want to thank all the finalists for putting in the long hours to complete their work. Just to recap, innovators had to work through 44 use-case scenarios and answer detailed questions around enrollment and identification; security and fraud; management; privacy; scalability; adoptability and implementation. They were also asked to provide details on intellectual property and come up with a prototype development plan. Phew!

It’s a robust set of entries and we want to be sure we do our due diligence and give them the detailed review they deserve. All along, we’ve said that quality is our top priority. We want to identify a solution that will solve this critical patient safety problem. With that in mind, CHIME has adjusted the challenge timeline to ensure that both judges and innovators have adequate time to move through these final stages of review and prototype testing.

  • May 12: Finalists will be announced
    • Finalists will receive guidelines for the prototype stage of the challenge.
    • We’ll also schedule a webinar to provide a more detailed review of what’s expected.
  • June 30: Deadline to submit prototypes
  • July 1 – August 25: Prototype testing phase 1: enrollment & identification
  • September 1 – October 15: Prototype testing phase 2: privacy & security
  • Early November: Winner announced

There’s a lot of work ahead of us as we march toward naming a winner, but it’s important that we don’t lose sight of why we launched this challenge in the first place. ECRI Institute listed patient identification as one of its top 10 patient safety concerns for 2017. Citing its 2016 deep dive on the issue, ECRI noted that of 7,613 events analyzed, 9 percent resulted in patient injury, including two deaths. Imagine if you or a loved one were part of that 9 percent. Our goal is make sure that everyone is correctly identified when they seek care and that we eliminate this risk of patient harm.

The Final Countdown!

Feb. 28, 2017, 12:48 p.m. PST by Matthew Weinstock

Hello Innovators:

It's been a long road, but we are finally getting close to the finish line. The deadline to submit your final proposal is March 1 at midnight Eastern Time. 

We officially launched the National Patient ID Challenge a little over a year ago with the hopes of helping providers save lives and to root out inefficiencies in our healthcare system. We are thrilled that you've joined us on this journey. This video is a brief reminder of why we started down this road:

Again, be sure to get you final submissions in by midnight tomorrow!


Deadline Approaching! Encouragement and Instructions from your NPID Team

Feb. 16, 2017, 10:07 a.m. PST by Danielle Culberson

Hello CHIME Healthcare Innovation Trust National Patient ID Innovators!


When we launched the National Patient ID Challenge one year ago, we laid out a single vision – find a solution that will ensure that patients are accurately identified 100 percent of the time. It’s been a long haul and we have a few more yards to go, but this is, without a doubt, an exciting time for the NPID Challenge. We are just two weeks away from close of the Final Innovation Round. We are looking forward to reviewing the trailblazing solutions and innovations that you are developing.  If you have questions or if you need clarity about any aspect of the competition, please post your comment to our forum and one of our moderators will get back to you shortly.


As the March 1st deadline approaches, we have a number of recommendations for you to consider as you enter your submissions.  Please carefully review the following guidelines and let us know if you have any questions.


1.    Begin completing your submission form now. The submission is extensive and it will take some time to ensure all components are complete -- do not wait until the last day. You can save your submission on as you are working and come back to it until the submission deadline.

2. The submission form requires a variety of responses: open text answers, links, uploads, etc. Review the form in advance (not just the guidelines) so that you can format your answers accordingly.

3. All starred* fields are required. The system will not let you submit (it won't even show you the submit button) until all starred fields are complete. If you are unable to submit, carefully review each of the submission fields to ensure completion.

4. Character counts include spaces. Account for that as you develop your responses.

5. Ensure that your supplemental information is uploaded a .pdf file only. No other file extension will be accepted.
6. Detailed instructions on how to upload your videos are available here: Review the instructions carefully, test your video uploads now to ensure that you have no issues.

7. Each of the Use Case Scenarios includes a link box below the text response. This must be a URL that is viewable by anyone who sees it, ie CHIME and the judges. The URL can be a link to Google Drive, DropBox, or any other platform as long as you ensure that the link is viewable by anyone who has it. 

We strongly suggest that you link only to an image, to support readability for readers. Only one link per Use Case Scenario is permitted. We encourage you to include any additional images for particular Use Cases in the supplemental information.

8. Double-check spelling and grammar of your submission and proper formatting of your supplemental information. It makes an impression.

9. Be succinct, concise, and brief. We know, that all says the same thing. We have provided ample room for your responses, but it is important that you create a clear narrative with only relevant information for the judging panel.

10. Start completing your submission form now. Tech issues happen, don't let them happen to you at 11:58pm. 


Wishing you all the best,

The CHIME Healthcare Innovation Trust Patient ID Challenge Team

Videos for Final Round Submissions

Jan. 12, 2017, 12:08 p.m. PST by Matthew Weinstock

Hello and happy New Year!

We hope everyone had a good holiday season. As you move forward with your final round submissions for the National Patient ID Challenge, we wanted to make sure that you knew about some simplifications we made to the process. Specifically, we tried to streamline the requirements for videos. Click here to learn more about the changes. 

And keep in the mind updated timeline we announced late last year:

  • Final submissions due: March 1, 2017
  • Finalists announced: March 30, 2017
  • Finalists’ prototype submissions due: April 30, 2017
  • Grand prize winner: Expected announcement in June

As always, thank you for joining us on this important journey to improve patient safety.

21st Century Cures Act Address Patient Matching

Dec. 16, 2016, 8 a.m. PST by Matthew Weinstock

Hello innovators!

As you may have heard, President Obama last week signed into law the 21st Century Cures Act. While the new law largely focuses on medical research and the approval process for drugs and medical devices, there are several provisions that address patiend identification and patient matching.

The law directs the Government Accountability Office to assess and report on the current state of patient matching. GAO will review not just government activities, but what's happening in the private sector. The law also directs a new health IT federal advisory committee to evaluate how to achieve a health information infrastructure, nationally and locally, that allows for the electronic access, exchange and use of health information technology, including through technology that provides accurate patient information for the correct patient, including exchanging such information, and avoids the duplication of patient records.

Accurate patient identification, which is the primary focus of the NPID Challenge, is a critical piece to the patient matching puzzle and for creating a more robust system of information exchange. 

While you charge ahead with developing your solutions, CHIME will continue to educate federal officials on the importance of solving this problem. Thanks for joining us on this journey!

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