Advocacy is all about relationships. MoHIMA’s President Elect, Brenda Fuller, and Delegates Jane DeSpiegelaere and Kay Piper built those relationships during AHIMA’s Advocacy Summit, Washington, DC, March 19-20, 2018 by meeting with Congressional members or their staffs on issues important to HIM: patient matching and modernizing privacy laws to combat the opioid epidemic.
Finding all of a patient’s health information without including someone else’s is a patient safety issue. HIM professionals search by name, birthday, address, and other identifiers but these are prone to errors. MoHIMA requested that legislators remove the 1999 language from a fiscal year 2019 appropriations legislation that doesn’t let US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) discuss creating a strategy to uniquely identify each patient. By removing the language prohibiting discussions, HHS could work with the healthcare industry on a nationwide way to match patients to their health information while respecting privacy laws. Imagine the improved healthcare that would result if all of one’s health records across the nation no matter where care is sought could be located using one identifying method, such as a unique patient number, the patient’s fingerprint image, face scan.
42 CFR Part 2 is a 40 year old privacy statute governing the confidentiality and sharing of substance use disorder treatment records. It requires the patient’s written consent to give out any information that would indicate that the patient received treatment for a substance abuse disorder. This includes written consent before a physician prescribing pain medication could get information that substance abuse disorder existed. This doesn’t align with HIPAA, as written consent is still needed even though HIPAA lets covered entities use and disclose protected health information if it’s being used for treatment, payment, or healthcare operations. MoHIMA asked lawmakers to support and co-sponsor H.R. 3545, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (OPPS Act)/S. 1850, the Protecting Jessie Grubb’s Legacy Act. H.R. 3545/S. 1850.