#MyHealthID Campaign Was Just the Start of a Long Conversation

AHIMA has made an impression on Capitol Hill on the topic of voluntary patient safety identifiers. That’s according to AHIMA’s Pam Lane, MS, RHIA, vice president, policy and government relations.

Although AHIMA did not reach its goal of 100,000 signatures on a White House petition calling for the lifting of a ban that prohibits government officials from discussing patient identification solutions, it made an impact in other ways. The White House petition, which ran from March 20 to April 19, only garnered 8,979 signatures. Lane says that although she’s disappointed the petition didn’t meet AHIMA’s goal, she always viewed the petition as a “tiny step on a long walk.” Now, she’s focused instead on what the petition did do, which was to generate a tremendous amount of buzz and publicity in Washington, says Lane.

According to AHIMA officials, there were approximately 25 news stories written about AHIMA’s petition and the #MyHealthID social media campaign, which reached 3.5 million readers.

“And because we got so much press, when we went to Capitol Hill on AHIMA’s Hill Day, they [lawmakers] knew AHIMA was the lead in patient identity issues. This helped conversation on the Hill,” says Lane. “Legislators agree it’s an important issue. The challenge they have is, ‘how do you move forward?’” Lane explains.

Lawmakers want to know the costs of implementing a voluntary patient safety identifier, so a request has been made to have the Government Accountability Office conduct an investigation into potential costs of such a program. The deadline for this to be completed is January of 2017.

The most important thing the #MyHealthID campaign has done so far is provide AHIMA and other advocates with patient stories—stories about near misses, where patients almost received the wrong procedures.

“The feedback from our members has been, ‘This makes perfect sense, why don’t we have this [a patient safety identifier]?’” Lane says. “A voluntary patient identifier will be on our radar for a long time.”

Mary Butler is the associate editor at The Journal of AHIMA.

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