By Lesley Kadlec, MA, RHIA, CHDA, and Kate McFadyen
AHIMA has long voiced support for appropriations bill language that would ignite a patient identification conversation in healthcare.
AHIMA recognizes that, at its core, accurate patient identification enhances data integrity, facilitates patient care, and improves overall patient safety. However, the lack of a national strategy addressing patient identification, hindered by a line within the federal budget that bans any funds from being used to promulgate or adopt a unique patient identifier, has long been a barrier to accurate patient identification. Addressing this issue will continue to be a top priority for AHIMA in 2021.
As a part of our advocacy agenda, AHIMA is committed to working with health information professionals, the Patient ID Now coalition, and our federal partners to address this important issue. As a founding member of the Patient ID Now coalition, AHIMA has helped to bring together organizations that share a commitment to advocating for the removal of section 510 from the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill, which would then allow the US Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) the flexibility to work with the healthcare sector to develop a nationwide patient identification strategy.
AHIMA and our partners have made it a priority to educate policymakers about the importance of patient identification, and with the leadership of our Congressional champions, Representative Bill Foster (D-IL) and Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA), were successful in removing the ban from the House of Representatives’ Labor-HHS appropriations bill in both fiscal years 2020 and 2021. While the ban eventually was continued in the final versions of the federal budget, AHIMA and the Patient ID Now coalition will continue to press forward this year and continue to gain more ground, with the help of our engaged membership.
Engagement from health information professionals are key in pushing AHIMA’s advocacy initiatives, such as the issue of patient identification. Making the voice of the health information profession heard on the Hill and within the Administration is vital to ensuring a health system that acknowledges the expertise of our professionals, and the importance of prioritizing issues surrounding health information. We encourage all of our members to make your voice heard this year.