The U.S. Senate has removed language prohibiting innovation around national patient identification from its most recent appropriations bill. Health industry stakeholders are applauding the move – and pushing for more progress toward solving this longstanding interoperability challenge.
WHY IT MATTERS
Patient ID Now – a stakeholder group comprising HIMSS (parent company of Healthcare IT News), the American College of Surgeons, the American Health Information Management Association, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, Intermountain Healthcare and Premier Healthcare Alliance – cheered the removal of the ban from the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill.
Since its founding in 2020, and even before that, Patient ID Now and its member groups have sought to build bipartisan momentum toward enabling accurate patient identification – starting first by removing the “antiquated” legislative barriers blocking research into new strategies for unique patient identification.
The group has cast a spotlight on the many challenges caused by patient misidentification: misfiled diagnoses, hobbled interoperability and, especially during the pandemic, “duplicate health records created during the vaccination registration process and disruptions in vaccine availability at provider sites because of inaccurate patient documentation.”
THE LARGER TREND
The U.S. House of Representatives already removed the patient ID ban in its version of the Labor-HHS appropriations bill. With the movement in the Senate, Patient ID Now is imploring Congress to officially pass a law to remove the ban – in place for more than 20 years now – on developing a nationwide strategy for identification and matching.
The COVID-19 public health emergency has been an object lesson in the need for accurate patient matching.
In April, Patient ID Now published a new national strategic framework for patient identity and matching, and called on the government to partner with public health agencies and other private sector groups to help ensure privacy, security and patient safety.
ON THE RECORD
“HIMSS applauds the Senate Appropriations Committee for removing the harmful ban and taking action to address patient identification,” said HIMSS President & CEO Hal Wolf in a statement.
“The challenges our healthcare system experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic have underscored the urgent need for our community to engage with HHS to develop and advance a national patient identification strategy,” said Wolf. “For too long, this outdated prohibition has impeded innovation and jeopardized patient safety. It is time for Congress to finally repeal the ban.”
“We look forward to the near-term release of the congressionally-mandated patient identification report from the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and enactment into law of an HHS funding bill that removes the archaic prohibition and enables HHS to work with the private sector to finally achieve an effective national strategy on patient identification,” added Intermountain Healthcare Chief Information Officer Ryan Smith.
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