On Wednesday, HIMSS joined 25 healthcare organizations in sending a letter to House and Senate Appropriators urging the inclusion of report language to accompany the FY18 Labor-HHS spending bill that would clarify HHS’s ability to engage with private sector organizations to advance patient data matching. Similar language was included in the report accompanying the House FY17 Labor-HHS bill last year but was not included with the final spending package signed into law.
The draft report language from FY17 highlighted in the letter identifies “the lack of a consistent patient data matching strategy” as “one of the most significant challenges inhibiting the safe and secure electronic exchange of health information.” It goes on to clarify that the UPI prohibition should “not prohibit HHS from examining the issues around patient matching” and encourages HHS to provide technical assistance to private-sector led initiatives to develop a coordinated national strategy for accurate patient identification and matching.
HIMSS for several years has urged Congress to address the impact of the UPI prohibition, including in our 2015 Congressional Ask: Support Robust Interoperability and Health Information Exchange. This report language would mark a recognition by Congress of the need to remove barriers to HHS engaging with the private sector to develop solutions to improve the accuracy and efficiency of patient data matching.
The HIMSS Congressional Affairs Team will continue to work with our partner organizations and relevant Congressional Members and Committees to advance this effort.