We Need Your Help: Tell Congress We Need a National Patient Identification Strategy
As our healthcare system moves toward nationwide health information exchange, consistency in identifying a patient remains conspicuously absent. Care providers are missing opportunities to improve a patient’s health when that patient’s data is not easily available. As data exchange increases among providers, patient identification errors and mismatches will become exponentially more problematic and dangerous.
Unfortunately, this conversation hasn’t progressed as technology has evolved due to a prohibition carried in every Labor-H appropriations bill since 1999. Then-Congressman Ron Paul inserted language prohibiting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from using funds to “promulgate or adopt any final standard …. providing for the assignment of a unique health identifier for an individual.” This language, which remains in force today, has again been included as Section 510 of the Labor-Health and Human Services Appropriation bill. It must be removed for us to offer a fully interoperable exchange of patient data.
We have an opportunity this week to pursue a national patient identification strategy through an amendment submitted in the House. Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL-11) and Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA-16) have introduced an amendment to the House Labor-H Appropriations bill that, if passed, would end the prohibition on a national patient identifier. We need your help to make sure this amendment passes.
We encourage you and your colleagues to call your representatives and tell them to support the Foster-Kelly Amendment. If you do not know who your representative is, please use this link. We’ve provided talking points to leverage and content for social media below. Every phone call, email and tweet will make a difference.
Let Congress know that the lack of a consistent patient identification strategy is one of the most significant barriers inhibiting the safe and secure electronic exchange of health information today. With your help we can remove the ban that has stopped HHS from pursuing meaningful solutions to the patient identification problem and greatly improve electronic health information exchange.
If you have any questions or would like a more detailed explanation for the need for a national strategy to identify patients, please contact Leslie Krigstein, CHIME’s Vice President of Congressional Affairs.
Hi, I’m [Name, Title & Organization].
[They’ll ask for your mailing address and email. Provide it or else they won’t capture your comments]
As a constituent, I’d like to urge Representative [Last Name] to support the Foster-Kelly Amendment to pursue a national strategy for patient identification.
We know that the House is going to vote on the Labor-HHS appropriations bill this week, and without the ability for clinicians to correctly connect a patient with their medical record, lives have been and will continue to be lost. In addition, medical errors have needlessly occurred, adding to the burgeoning costs of healthcare in the U.S. These are situations that could have been avoided had patients been accurately identified and matched with their records. This problem is so dire that one of the nation’s leading patient safety organizations named patient identification among the top ten threats to patient safety.
Without question, passing the Foster-Kelly Amendment and removing the outdated ban would help bring our healthcare system into the 21st Century, improve patient safety, and save millions of dollars.
I hope that Representative [Last Name] will consider supporting this important amendment.
Thank you, have a good day.
If you are active on social media, consider contacting your Member of Congress concerning this important issue; a draft tweet is below.
Members of Congress have become more interested in feedback via social media channels. If you are active on Twitter, please consider tweeting your Member of Congress concerning the need for a national strategy for patient identification by supporting the Foster-Kelly Amendment.
@[Rep. Twitter Handle] Please support the Foster-Kelly #patientidentification amendment to improve patient safety, outcomes and lower costs. Patients deserve better. #patientsfirst #patientsafety #patientoutcomes