Thursday, March 31, 2016

Petition sent to White House supporting a renewed dialogue on voluntary patient safety identifier

NAHAM calls on support for the following petition now pending with the White House –

Accurate patient identification is critical to providing safe care. We support a voluntary patient safety identifier and petition for the removal of the federal legislative ban that currently prohibits the US Department of Health and Human Services from participating in efforts to find a patient identification solution. Sharing of electronic health information is being compromised because of patient identification issues. Let’s start the conversation and find a solution.

The petition may be found at

NAHAM believes that congressional language that currently prevents the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from engaging in any work towards the use of a unique patient identifier is harmful to national efforts to improve patient identification and matching. The congressional opposition to a universal patient identification scheme should not prevent a public discourse, including research and analysis of the challenges that will only increase with the move toward electronic healthcare records and the expectations of interoperability among healthcare systems. 
The petition is not calling on the adoption of a universal patient identification, nor does support of this petition equate to support for such a scheme.  In fact, the petition seeks spur interest and dialogue in a voluntary scheme, but importantly, a scheme that will include a unique patient identification.  Reinterpreting the congressional language that bans HHS from implementing a universal patient identification so that a robust public policy discussion can take place is long overdue.  Certainly our nation’s lead federal healthcare agency should be an active participant in the inquiry into the possibility that such an identifier could reduce patient safety risks associated with identity integrity.

NAHAM’s support of the petition is consistent with its Public Policy Statement: Patient Identity Integrity (October 2015), Patient Identity Integrity requires additional standardized data attributes in the absence of the universally adopted unique patient identifier, and its current work on developing standards for best practices in the collection of patient “data attributes” as identified by the Office of the National Coordinator’s (ONC’s) 2014 report, Patient Identification and Matching Final Report.  NAHAM believes that all of these resources must be in play to address current and prepare for increasing challenges in patient identification.

The petition, filed by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and posted on the Obama Administration’s We the People website, will be open through April 19 and will require 100,000 online signatures before it will be considered.  It is posted as “Remove the federal budget ban that prevents HHS from working on a voluntary patient safety identifier (MyHealthID)”.  

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