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Senate Bill Maintains Roadblock to Patient Identification

Patient ID Now, a coalition of leading health care organizations, including the American College of Surgeons, AHIMA, the College of Healthcare Information Management ExecutivesHIMSSIntermountain Healthcare, and Premier Healthcare Alliance, is disappointed that the US Senate did not remove the longstanding ban in its Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill that stifles innovation around patient identification.

The recently launched coalition is bringing attention to the critical challenges of patient misidentification that afflict the country’s health system. Failure to accurately identify patients to their data raises patient safety and quality of care concerns, and those concerns have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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. Despite the US House of Representatives unanimously removing the ban in its Labor-HHS bill passed in July, the US Senate’s just-released appropriations bill chose not to address patient identification. This will continue to hamper efforts around patient safety and the public health response.

Properly matching patients and their data not only improves care but is vital in the response to the current pandemic. Accurate identification of patients is one of the most difficult operational issues during a public health emergency. 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, and for tracking the long-term effects of COVID-19. Any widespread COVID-19 vaccination efforts will hinge on accurate patient identification.

Patient ID Now hopes that the Senate will work with the House of Representatives on this issue and remove Section 510 from the Labor-HHS bill in Congress’ final budget.

Source: AHIMA