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COVID-19 Vaccine Logistics Underscore the Need for a National Patient ID Strategy

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), along with the Patient ID Now Coalition, is urging stakeholders to take action by reaching out to their senators in support of repealing the longstanding appropriations ban on a unique patient identifier standard. The call to action is one of several advocacy initiatives launched by CHIME recently to continue an awareness campaign that kicked off on November 18, which CHIME and the coalition have named “Patient ID Day.”

With two viable COVID-19 vaccine candidates showing positive results in Phase 3 clinical trials, having a vaccine available in the United States in the near future is looking promising. This modern medical triumph will be jeopardized though if there is not a reliable and safe national patient identification strategy. If clinicians can accurately match patients to their health care records, they will be confident that they gave the right patient the right dose in the right order at the right time. Creating the vaccine is only the first step in beating COVID-19. It is only through successful vaccination administration that the United States will be able to truly put the pandemic behind us. Properly matching patients with their medical records will be crucial to solving rapid vaccination tracking requirements.

“While continued incremental changes are being proposed to increase the matching accuracy rate, these are only small steps toward making care safer for patients. The magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic calls for rapid change to ensure patients are safely and correctly vaccinated in as fast a manner as possible when the vaccine becomes available,” says CHIME President and CEO Russell P. Branzell. “Thanks to the efforts of our members and our Patient ID Now partners, we have made progress in Congress with having the archaic ban that blocks funding for a unique patient identifier removed from House appropriations bills. Now it is the time for the Senate to act.”

CHIME has long advocated for a national patient identification system to protect patients from harms that occur through misidentifications resulting in different patient records getting commingled and duplicate patient records. CHIME will continue to prioritize this work throughout the pandemic and into the future until there is a permanent solution. More information about the issue is available on the Patient ID Now website. CHIME also offers information and resources on the CHIME website.

Source: College of Healthcare Information Management Executives