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Patient ID Now Coalition Releases Framework for a National Strategy on Patient Identity

Patient ID Now, a coalition of more than 40 health care organizations, including the American College of Surgeons, AHIMA, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), HIMSS, Intermountain Healthcare, and Premier Healthcare Alliance, recently released its Framework for a National Strategy on Patient Identity: A Proposed Blueprint to Improve Patient Identification and Matching

In the framework, the Patient ID Now coalition calls on the federal government to closely collaborate with the private sector and with state, local, tribal, and territorial public health authorities to create and implement a national strategy around patient identification that protects patient safety and privacy. The Framework for a National Strategy on Patient Identity offers perspectives from across the health ecosystem and provides the building blocks from which Health and Human Services (HHS) could build a national strategy that ensures accurate patient identification. Within the framework, the coalition outlines a number of actions HHS should consider if it moves forward on a national strategy. These recommendations fall under topic areas such as accurate identification and match rates, privacy, security, standardization, interoperability, data quality, and health equity and inclusion. 

Some of the recommendations put forth by the coalition state that a national strategy should do the following:

“Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to address patient misidentification throughout the health ecosystem,” says AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE. “Accurate identification of patients is one of the most difficult operational issues during a public health emergency, and the nationwide response to the pandemic, including the rollout of the vaccination programs, has highlighted the repercussions of not having a nationwide strategy to connect patients with their data.” 

Since the vaccine rollout began, coalition members have received reports of vaccination registrations causing thousands of duplicate records within a single system, costing some hospitals and health systems at least $12,000 per day to rectify these errors. There are also reports of some vaccination sites being denied additional vaccines because patient record systems incorrectly show patients as not having received previously administered vaccinations. 

“The lack of a national strategy to improve patient identification and matching continues to put patients at risk and compromises our response to public health emergencies, as the current COVID-19 pandemic has painfully revealed,” says Blair Childs, Premier Inc senior vice president of public affairs. “Advancing policies laid out in this framework will improve the nation’s pandemic response and overall public safety. It will also remove obstacles to care coordination and nationwide interoperability, as well as save millions in associated costs for the health care system.” 

Patient ID Now represents patient groups, physicians, providers, health information professionals, HIT companies, and public health, and is committed to advancing a nationwide strategy to address patient identification. On Capitol Hill, the coalition is currently advocating for the repeal of an archaic ban within the federal budget that hinders HHS’ ability to advance efforts to address the vital issue of patient misidentification. The framework is the next step in advancing the country toward a system that accurately connects patients to their health information. 

Here are what leaders of other coalition member organizations say about the framework: 

“Intermountain Healthcare is proud to be a founding member of the Patient ID Now Coalition,” says Intermountain Healthcare Vice President and Chief Information Officer Ryan Smith. “The need for accurate patient identification is a critical public health and safety issue. Release of this Framework for a National Strategy on Patient Identity is an important step forward toward an effective national strategy on patient identification. This essential but missing functionality would add significantly to providers’ ability to manage care safely, and if it were in place, it would assist in effectively battling the coronavirus. We look forward to working with our colleagues to achieve an effective nationwide strategy that will enable patients to be accurately identified to their health information.”

“HIMSS and our members have long advocated for advancing a nationwide patient matching strategy. Throughout the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to address the issue of patient identification. The inability to accurately match patients with their records has severe patient safety and financial implications, and impedes health information exchange,” says HIMSS President & CEO Hal Wolf. “The framework lays the foundation for a national strategy that saves lives, while protecting a patient's choice and privacy rights.”

Source: Patient ID Now