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Unique Nursing Identifiers (UNI) for Nursing Care

Good afternoon all, 

I was reading an article this week on Unique Nurse Identifiers (UNI) and wanted to reflect on it here this week. 

If this is the first time you have heard of a Unique Nurse Identifier (UNI), I'll share the definition from the article which I was reading:

"A UNI is a defined code or series of characters that represents an individual nurse within various healthcare technology systems and devices."

The concept of UNI's is not new as each registered nurse has a UNI with the board of nursing where he/she/they has had a registered nursing license. 

Additionally, Nurse Practitioners have a National Provider Identification (NPI) number provided from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Adding a UNI for nurses in healthcare organizations could help in several ways. One that stands out is the ability to more discretely identify the impact of direct nursing care on patient health outcomes. An ongoing challenge in nursing has been the ability to leverage nursing's ongoing daily documentation to demonstrate an impact on patient health outcomes. Unlike other healthcare professional groups, nurses are grouped into the cost of a healthcare organization. Additionally, without an UNI, standardization across the country is not possible. 

However, there are some challenges toward moving in this direction. One to be aware of is that with any new technological advance, there is likely to be an unintended consequence that is not beneficial. Additionally, the purposes for a national UNI would need to be agreed upon and defined for ensuring that the uses would be clear. Some may be fearful of another identifier without clarity on what it is for and/or how it is used amongst those with access. 

I do see there being value in moving this idea forward for the benefit of advancing nursing toward a healthcare professional group that has more visible contributions in and out of the healthcare organization. I also believe that standardization has a value for the long term as technologies continue to develop and increase the number and complexity of devices used per day. 

I would be interested to hear what your thoughts are on this topic. The full article is linked again here and entitled, "What a unique nurse identifier means for the future" for your reference. 

Be well, 

Tiffany

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