CHIME Calls for Unique Patient Identifier System To Improve Safety

July 6, 2015 in News

Last week, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives in a letter called on lawmakers to lift a congressional prohibition on the use of federal funds to develop a unique patient identifier system, Healthcare IT News reports.

Since 1999, Congress annually has prohibited HHS from using federal funding to identify standards to improve positive patient identification and create a unique patient identifier system.

Letter Details

In the letter sent to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions leaders, CHIME argued that removing the ban is key to ensuring patient safety and improving interoperability (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 7/2).

CHIME President and CEO Russell Branzell and Board Chair Charles Christian wrote that without an accurate method of matching patients with their health information, “patient data matching errors and mismatches will become exponentially more problematic and dangerous” (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 7/2). They added, “Robust information exchange and nationwide interoperability can flourish only once we can confidently identify a patient across providers, locations and vendors” (Goedert, Health Data Management, 7/6).

In addition, they noted that a standard patient identifier would support longitudinal patient records, which track patient experiences throughout their lifetimes, across various care settings and geographic locations (CHIME letter, 7/1). They wrote that such technology “remains only an ideal at this time.”

Branzell and Christian also called on the Senate HELP committee to make it a priority to develop a unified strategy for quality measure reporting (FierceHealthIT, 7/2).

In addition, Leslie Krigstein, interim vice president of public policy at CHIME, said the group is conducting informal conversations with industry associations to ensure they deliver similar messages.

CHIME also is calling for a Government Accountability Office study to highlight current interoperability issues and patient identifier options to help inform lawmakers (Health Data Management, 7/6).

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