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|TxHIMA Advocacy Efforts|
The TxHIMA Legislative Committee and Board of Directors works to support advocacy efforts at the national and state level. TxHIMA representatives attend the AHIMA Advocacy Summit and participate in TxhIMA Hill Day. Both of these initiatives provide an opportunity to educate elected representatives on the issues impacting our profession. TxHIMA also works to develop position papers which can be shared with state agencies who develop regulations affecting our profession.
2018 AHIMA Advocacy Topics
Annually, American Health Information Management Association (“AHIMA”) hosts an Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC, to promote legislative and regulatory initiatives of importance to the Health Information Management profession and healthcare consumers. This year, AHIMA advocated for a national patient matching strategy, along with modernizing existing patient privacy laws to combat the opioid epidemic in America. In support of these advocacy efforts, AHIMA developed position papers describing the issues and challenges. These position papers were provided to members of Congress and their staff, as well as to AHIMA members with goals to raise awareness and affect change.
Patient Matching Summary
Specific language in the 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act prohibited the US Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) from using appropriated funds to advance discussion of a unique health identifier standard. Subsequently, all appropriation bills since 1999 included the same restrictive language. This language prevents the formation of any public-private partnership leading toward the development of a unique health identifier designed to improve patient identification and match patients to their clinical data in electronic health records. Better patient matching is needed to reduce medical errors that occur when the wrong patient is selected or clinical data cannot be located. Additionally, healthcare providers are burdened by utilizing resources to resolve duplicate records which can also lead to higher costs, billing errors, payment delays, and claim denials. The growth of available electronic health data, together with advancements in interoperability and health information exchanges, strengthen the demand for accurate patient matching. AHIMA is asking members of Congress to omit the restrictive language from the 2019 appropriations legislation, so that HHS can engage healthcare and technology representatives in creating a national patient matching strategy.
Modernizing Privacy Laws to Combat Opioid Epidemic Summary
Substance abuse disorder treatment record confidentiality is subject to the 40-year-old 42 CFR Part 2 regulation which generally prohibits the sharing of Part 2 program substance abuse treatment records with other healthcare providers, unless the patient provides written consent. Currently in the absence of written consent, healthcare providers cannot access critical information about their patient’s prior substance abuse history or treatments even during a medical emergency. Healthcare providers need complete and accurate clinical data to deliver safe and effective care. The lack of a complete and accurate medical history, can lead to unforeseen complications and risks, including medication contraindications. Healthcare providers are challenged to segregate substance abuse records in paper and electronic environments, so that these are not part of a release of information request without the additional written consent required for substance abuse records.