Patient ID Now, a coalition of leading health care organizations, including the American College of Surgeons (ACS), AHIMA, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, HIMSS, Intermountain Healthcare, and Premier Healthcare Alliance, is pleased that the US House of Representatives has removed, for the third year in a row, the longstanding ban in its Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill that stifles innovation around patient identification.
Patient ID Now has brought attention to the need for a national strategy around patient identification that offers both improved patient safety and improved efficiency to health care, well as enhanced interoperability. Although patient misidentification has been a problem for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic heightened the harmful effects of the health system’s inability to accurately match patients to their complete health records.
An archaic section of the federal budget has prevented Health and Human Services from working with the private sector to develop a nationwide patient identification strategy, but today the House of Representatives, with leadership from Representative Bill Foster (D-IL) and Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA), once again took an important step forward in repealing this ban.
The coalition is now calling on the US Senate to finally join the bipartisan work of the House of Representatives and repeal the ban this year to work towards a health system that prioritizes the safety and privacy of patients.
“The pandemic made clear that now is the time to take action to ensure the health and safety of patients across the US and bolster the accuracy and interoperability of health data,” says AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE. “Moving the appropriations bill forward without this harmful ban is the first step toward finding a strategy that can lead to better safety and care outcomes.”
Throughout the pandemic the health care industry has struggled to resolve this difficult operational issue. Ensuring the correct patient medical history is accurately matched to the patient is critical for future patient care, patients’ long-term access to their complete health record, accurately tracking vaccination status, and monitoring the long-term effects of COVID-19.
“ACS applauds Congress in taking necessary and overdue first steps in working towards the trusted, digital identity of patients so that surgeons can exchange information on their behalf,” says ACS’ Medical Director of Quality and Health Policy Frank Opelka, MD, FACS. “Our patients deserve trusted, shared information as they navigate a complex health care system."
Here is what leaders of other coalition member organizations said about the recent vote: