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Washington Debrief: Feedback Offered to Senate HELP Committee on Draft HIT Bill

February 1, 2016
by Leslie Kriegstein, Interim Vice President of Public Policy, CHIME
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Congressional Affairs

Feedback offered on Patient Matching, Standards Harmonization and Interoperability to Senate HELP Committee on Draft HIT Bill

Key Takeaway: CHIME offered comments to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) draft health IT legislation last week, commending the committee for tackling many of CHIME’s policy priorities including: patient matching, standards harmonization and reduction in administrative burdens EHRs cause clinicians.

Why It Matters: The byproduct of six hearings, the 68-page draft bill released by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on January 20th includes directives to increase transparency around the functionality of certified electronic health records, revisit the existing federal advisory committees and enable patients with access to a longitudinal healthcare record in a single location.

CHIME highlighted the below provisions to be those of particular value to our membership:

  • Request for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on patient matching
  • Certification EHRs shall ensure that accurate patient information is provided for the correct patient at the appropriate time
  • Creation of a nationwide provider directory
  • Reduction in the administrative burden plaguing the provider community, specifically concerning the immaturity and cumbersome nature of reporting and leveraging clinical quality measures
  • Prioritization of standards harmonization and adoption as a means to facilitate interoperability
  • Enabling patients to have access to a longitudinal healthcare record in a single location using a patient-friendly format

CHIME commended the committee on the inclusion of a request for the GAO to conduct a study on patient matching. In particular, it asks GAO to evaluate current methods for patient matching and to determine if the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology could take steps to improve patient matching. While we would prefer a national identification solution, this important step signifies Congress' recognition and willingness to address the important of linking patients to their healthcare data.

CHIME submitted comments to the committee to inform the development of this draft legislation last July. Comments on the draft legislation were due to the committee on January 29th. Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced the committee would review the bill during an executive session on February 9.

CHIME Responds to Senate Chronic Care Working Group, Touts Interoperability and Telehealth as Necessary Components of Future Legislative Efforts

Key Takeaway: In response to the Senate Finance Committee’s Chronic Care Working Group, CHIME emphasized the importance of enabling the creation of longitudinal healthcare records through patient matching and interoperability for both prevention and treatment of chronic illness.

Why It Matters: A bipartisan working group within the Senate Finance Committee set out in 2015 to identify ways to improve care for the nation’s chronically ill patients. In December the group released a Policy Options Document that evaluated a number of proposals ranging from revisions to outdated reimbursement formulas to greater access to telehealth services.   

CHIME's response reminded the committee of the importance high-functioning electronic health records and the value of interoperability, citing the need for a national patient identification solution, to facilitate and improve care for the chronically ill and to prevent the broader population from being subject to such conditions by making more data available to clinicians throughout the patient’s lifetime.

CHIME first submitted comments to the workgroup in June of 2015, which called on the committee to foster policies that bolster care coordination and telehealth services in the treatment of patients with chronic conditions.

Federal Affairs