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MATCH IT Act aims to tackle patient matching woes

The MATCH IT Act would improve standardization of data elements tied to patient matching across disparate systems.
By admin
Feb 22, 2024, 2:48 PM

Legislators on both sides of the aisle are taking a closer look at how to address the longstanding issue of patient matching problems across the healthcare system. U.S. Representatives Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Bill Foster (D-IL) have introduced the Patient Matching and Transparency in Certified Health IT (MATCH IT) Act of 2024 to improve data standardization and interoperability, both of which could improve patient matching and reduce errors in medical records.  

“For too long, patient misidentification has put Americans within the U.S. health care system at risk. Patient matching errors has led to unnecessary expenses, medical mistakes, and even patient deaths,” said Rep. Kelly. “This bipartisan legislation works to improve interoperability between health care systems and decrease these fixable matching errors, all while protecting patient privacy. I want to thank Rep. Foster for joining me on this critical legislation that will improve both patient care and patient outcomes.” 

Added Rep. Foster, “I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Congressman Kelly that would help to decrease instances of patient misidentification that cause thousands of unnecessary deaths every year in the United States. I also look forward to continuing to work with Congressman Kelly to eliminate barriers to unique patient identifiers so we can prevent medical errors and ensure patients receive the correct treatment.” 

Duplicate records created when patient matching algorithms misfire can contribute to a variety of problems, including inappropriate or repeated care, incorrect billing, and patient privacy missteps. The Congressmen note that the costs of repeated care due to duplicate records average close to $2,000 per inpatient stay and $1,700 per ED visit.  

In addition, more than a third of all denied claims can be tied back to incorrect patient identification, draining $2.5 million from the average hospital budget each year, and totaling more than $6.7 billion in losses annually for the health system as a whole. 

The bill would address these issues by establishing an industry standard definition for the term “patient match rate,” which would in turn help measure the true scope of the problem across the care continuum.  

The legislation also aims to improve the standardization of demographic elements within certified health IT products. This could make it easier for administrative staff to avoid errors at the source, as well as assist health information management professionals with the task of quickly identifying and fixing errors if they do occur. 

 The industry’s response to the bipartisan effort has been overwhelmingly positive, earning praise from leading professional societies such as AHIMA, CHIME, and HIMSS. 

“On behalf of our members, which include chief information officers and other digital health leaders from hospitals and healthcare providers across the globe, we appreciate the leadership of Representatives Mike Kelly and Bill Foster in introducing the MATCH IT Act. This bill will make a meaningful impact on patient misidentification through the standardization of patient information and builds off important work by CHIME and the other organizations in the Patient ID Now coalition to improve patient matching,” said Cassie Ballard, Director of Congressional Affairs, CHIME. 

AHIMA President and Board Chair, Mona Calhoun, PhD, MS, Med, RHIA, FAHIMA also commented, stating that her organization “commends Representatives Mike Kelly and Bill Foster for prioritizing patient safety and for continuing to champion the issue of patient matching. The MATCH IT Act would help decrease rates of misidentification, improve patient privacy and patient care through a standardization of patient information, and allow records to be matched more accurately. AHIMA looks forward to the passage of this critical legislation.” 

And HIMSS President and CEO Hal Wolf positioned HIMSS as a “proud supporter of the MATCH IT Act, which would improve patient safety and enhance care coordination by tackling a critical issue affecting our healthcare ecosystem – patient misidentification.” 

“We applaud Representatives Mike Kelly and Bill Foster for their continued leadership on this important issue and urge Congress to prioritize patient safety by passing this important legislation,” he said. 

Jennifer Bresnick is a journalist and freelance content creator with a decade of experience in the health IT industry.  Her work has focused on leveraging innovative technology tools to create value, improve health equity, and achieve the promises of the learning health system.  She can be reached at jennifer@inklesscreative.com.

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