This Week in HIT Policy News

Progress toward unique patient identifiers.

While efforts to remove the 20-year old Congressional ban on funding for development of a unique patient ID have not succeeded, the latest appropriation bill for the remainder of fiscal year 2020 did include some promising policy changes.  The bill directs the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) in coordination with other Federal agencies to explore ways to improve patient identification and matching. The ONC will have a year to deliver a report that “shall evaluate the effectiveness of current methods and recommend actions that increase the likelihood of an accurate match of patients to their health care data. Such recommendations may or may not include a standard for a unique patient health identifier.”

Recently re-appointed to a second term on the federal Health IT Advisory Committee (HITAC), Pivot Point Consulting Executive Advisor Denise Webb will work with the HITAC as well as the College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME) Policy Steering Committee if the bill passes to make recommendations to the ONC on ideas for how patient matching should be implemented to deliver value and patient safety.