Healthcare Reform

HIMSS and PCHAlliance Respond to ONC Request for Strategies to Improve Patient Identity and Matching

A young girl in a hospital bed talks to a medical professional wearing scrubs.

HIMSS and PCHAlliance have provided feedback to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) Request for Strategies to Improve Patient Identity and Matching, helping to inform ONC’s report to Congress on technical and operational methods that improve patient identity and matching.

The feedback was sent Sept. 4 in a letter to National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Dr. Donald Rucker.

HIMSS and PCHAlliance note that patient identity integrity and matching is a key component to secure, interoperable information sharing. As such, they offer strong support the removal of Section 510 of Labor HHS Appropriations that has led to an overly narrow interpretation of the possibility of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and ONC involvement in the development of a nationwide patient identification strategy.

The letter notes that HIMSS and PCHAlliance have spent considerable time and resources working with their members and healthcare community partners on addressing the components of this critical issue over the years. They continue to support a broad range of technology solutions to patient identify integrity and matching and suggest that as part of the government’s review, they should focus on key characteristics for patient identity integrity and matching.

This review must include improving data accuracy and quality, consistent business processes and training across information systems, and identity solutions, whether through patient identifiers or algorithms that improve patient matching across data systems.

HIMSS and PCHAlliance conclude by noting that patient identity integrity is a patient safety issue and true progress on a national approach is not possible until Congress lifts the ban on HHS developing a national strategy for patient identification. They will continue to work closely with community colleagues to advocate for the language in the FY2020 Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education and Related Agencies Appropriations, which created the requirement for ONC to write the report to Congress to evaluate the effectiveness of current methods of patient identification.

Read the entire letter and direct and questions to

HIMSS Government Relations

The HIMSS policy team works closely with the U.S. Congress, federal decision makers, state legislatures and governments, and other organizations to recommend policy, and legislative and regulatory solutions to improve health through information and technology.

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