CHIME presses Congress for patient ID

July 2, 2015 in Medical Technology

In a July 1 letter, to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor Pensions group working on improving EHRs, CHIME highlights correct patient identification as a critical need for ensuring patient safety.

The organization composed of more than 1,400 CIOs and other health IT professionals, launched a campaign at the Annual CHIME Spring Forum at the HIMSS Annual Conference last April. Since then, the organization has made it its mission to press for a unique patient identifier.

“The accurate and efficient matching of patients with their healthcare data is a signification threat to patient safety,” wrote CHIME CEO Russell P. Branzell and CHIME Board Chair Charles E. Christian in the letter to Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee and chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, and Patty Murray, ranking member of the committee and a Democrat from Washington State.

[See also: Senate panel to look into EHR usability and HELP panel persists on EHR usability.]

The solution, Branzell and Christian urged in their letter, is to “remove the Congressional prohibition levied on HHS annually since 1999, prohibiting the use of federal funds for the development of a unique patient identifier.

“We must first acknowledge that the lack of a consistent patient identity matching strategy is the most significant challenge inhibiting the safe and secure electronic exchange of health information. As our healthcare system begins to realize the innately transformational capabilities of health IT, moving toward nationwide health information exchange, this essential core functionality consistency in patient identity matching must be addressed,” they state in their letter.

In the letter, CHIME called on Congress to remove the prohibition barring federal regulators from identifying standards to improve positive patient identification.

With the removal of the outdated prohibition, Branzell and Christian stated, “we believe then that the nation can sincerely engage in a dialogue on finding solutions to solve this fundamental patient safety problem.”

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