The group of health organizations aims to encourage Congress to repeal a law that prevents HHS from working with the private sector to develop a national patient identifier (NPI) system.
Six major healthcare organizations have announced a collaboration aiming to enhance a national patient identifier program and boost patient matching by leveraging Congress for legislation and regulations.
American College of Surgeons, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), Intermountain Healthcare, and Premier Healthcare Alliance have banded together to create Patient ID Now.
“It’s inspiring to see six healthcare organizations work together to create positive change for patients and healthcare systems,” said AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE. “I am optimistic Patient ID Now will achieve its goals of helping healthcare systems better match patients with their data.”
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Patient matching is the practice of connecting patient records across different medical providers or facilities. A patient visiting two different doctors or two different hospitals should yield the same medical record, but the data shows this doesn’t usually happen.
Strong patient matching lowers costs, increases patient safety, improves clinical decision-making, and develops care coordination, the experts say. The group said it’s crucial for Congress to repeal a section of law that prevents the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from working with the House of Representatives to develop a national patient identifier (NPI) system.
For over two decades, the House of Representatives and HHS have debated the merits of an NPI system. The system would assign each United States citizen a unique number to be used across the healthcare system.
“CHIME is pleased to join the Patient ID Now Coalition as one of its founding members,” Russell Branzell, president and CEO of CHIME, said in a statement.
“CHIME has called for removing the funding ban for many years; the pandemic only amplifies the need for a safe, efficient and accurate strategy for matching patients to their healthcare records. We look forward to working with our colleagues to remove the funding ban and find solutions that will address this important patient safety issue.”
While patient safety is a major concern, a lack of strong patient matching also presents financial issues for health systems.
According to The Ponemon Institute, 35 percent of denied claims come from inaccurate patient identification or incomplete patient information, which as a result costs the average provider $1.2 million per year.
“HIMSS believes that the ‘partner’ patient and access to their longitudinal record is essential to achieving better care, and our members have long advocated for advancing a nationwide patient matching strategy,” Hal Wolf, HIMSS president and CEO, said in a statement.
“However, the outdated and harmful appropriations ban on a unique patient identifier continues to hinder these efforts and must be removed. The inability to accurately match patients with their records not only has severe financial implications, but also impedes health information exchange and most importantly impacts patient safety, including loss of lives. We must act now and remove the ban.”
Now with the six founding members together, the group has sent out an invitation to Congress and the media to join a virtual Hill briefing on July 7. The group members plan to discuss patient matching and how Congress can help aid their efforts.
“Intermountain Healthcare believes that the best thing for our patients and members is removing the appropriations ban on a unique patient identifier,” Marc Probst, vice president and chief information officer of Intermountain Healthcare, said in a statement.
“We are committed to helping make this happen. Lifting the ban will enable a national solution to our current inability to consistently and accurately identify patients to their health records. Lifting the archaic appropriations ban on a unique patient health identifier will save lives and is long overdue.”
Source: EHR Intelligence