Healthcare Reform

Patient ID Now Coalition Builds Framework for a National Strategy on Patient Identity

Several people sit in chairs in a waiting room. A medical professional stands and talks to a person.

Patient ID Now, a coalition of more than 40 leading healthcare organizations including HIMSS as a founding member, has released its Framework for a National Strategy on Patient Identity: A Proposed Blueprint to Improve Patient Identification and Matching.

This framework will help guide the creation of a national strategy for patient identification to ensure accurate patient matching and protect patient safety.

Patient ID Now calls on the federal government to closely collaborate with the private sector and with state, local, tribal and territorial public health authorities to create and implement a national strategy around patient identification that protects patient safety and privacy.

“HIMSS and our members have long advocated for advancing a nationwide patient matching strategy,” said HIMSS President & CEO Hal Wolf. “Throughout the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to address the issue of patient identification. The inability to accurately match patients with their records has severe patient safety and financial implications and impedes health information exchange. The framework lays the foundation for a national strategy that saves lives, while protecting a patient's choice and privacy rights.”

As Congress begins work on Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations, HIMSS and the coalition continue to advocate for the removal of Section 510 from the Labor-HHS appropriations bill, which has long prevented the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from engaging with the healthcare community on this issue.

The coalition recommends that a national strategy:

  • Provide guidance and standards on the calculation of error rates across health IT systems and organizations and identify minimum acceptable levels of accuracy
  • Leverage public and private sector resources to address patient privacy, including materials from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the principles of Self-Sovereign Identity, and Privacy by Design
  • Define the minimum standardized data set needed for patient identification and matching

Without public-private partnerships, it will be impossible for most health systems to reach a 100 percent match rate. This framework is a crucial step in modernizing our health care system, while ensuring patient safety and privacy.

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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