New House Appropriations Committee Bill Offers Hope for Patient Matching Solution | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

New House Appropriations Committee Bill Offers Hope for Patient Matching Solution

July 13, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

Language from the most recent House Appropriations Committee subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill offers some clarity regarding the restrictions on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to use federal funds on a national patient identifier.

The text of the bill, for Fiscal Year 2017, says, “Although the Committee continues to carry a prohibition against HHS using funds to promulgate or adopt any final standard providing for the assignment of a unique health identifier for an individual until such activity is authorized, the Committee notes that this limitation does not prohibit HHS from examining the issues around patient matching. Accordingly, the Committee encourages the Secretary, acting through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and CMS, to provide technical assistance to private-sector led initiatives to develop a coordinated national strategy that will promote patient safety by accurately identifying patients to their health information.”

This new language expects to be received somewhat positively by providers, and the private sector as a whole, which has long pushed for a universal patient identifying solution. However, since 1999, the federal government has been prohibited from spending public funds on the development of a national patient identifier. When the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed into law in 1996, it originally required that all Americans be issued a unique patient identifier based on the obvious potential benefits they could bring to healthcare regarding patient safety. However, after a 1998 federal hearing caused a public outcry due to invasion of privacy claims, Congress prohibited the use of federal dollars to create such a solution.

The ban has been in place ever since, though recent efforts from the private sector have offered some hope. Earlier this year, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) announced the launch of a National Patient ID Challenge, a $1 million crowdsourcing competition to incentivize the private sector to develop a fail-safe patient identifying solution that links patients to their medical records. Last month, during the competition’s Concept Blitz Round, 113 innovators from around the world submitted entries ranging from the use of quantum physics to multi-faceted biometric technologies as methods for ensuring accurate patient identification. CHIME named two winners; the challenge now moves into the Final Innovation Round, which is open until November 10.

Following the appropriations report language from the House Appropriations Committee, CHIME released a statement saying, “While we continue to believe that the ban should be lifted, we applaud the House Appropriations Committee for clarifying the limitations this restriction places on HHS and for encouraging the department to work with the private sector on developing a national patient identification and patient matching strategy.”

Topics

News

NewYork-Presbyterian, Walgreens Partner on Telemedicine Initiative

NewYork-Presbyterian and Walgreens are collaborating to bring expanded access to NewYork-Presbyterian’s healthcare through new telemedicine services, the two organizations announced this week.

ONC Releases Patient Demographic Data Quality Framework

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) developed a framework to help health systems, large practices, health information exchanges and payers to improve their patient demographic data quality.

AMIA, Pew Urge Congress to Ensure ONC has Funding to Implement Cures Provisions

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) have sent a letter to congressional appropriators urging them to ensure that ONC has adequate funding to implement certain 21st Century Cures Act provisions.

Former Michigan Governor to Serve as Chair of DRIVE Health

Former Michigan Governor John Engler will serve as chair of the DRIVE Health Initiative, a campaign aimed at accelerating the U.S. health system's transition to value-based care.

NJ Medical Group Launches Statewide HIE, OneHealth New Jersey

The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) recently launched OneHealth New Jersey, a statewide health information exchange (HIE) that is now live.

Survey: 70% of Providers Using Off-Premises Computing for Some Applications

A survey conducted by KLAS Research found that 70 percent of healthcare organizations have moved at least some applications or IT infrastructure off-premises.