AHIMA calls on Congress to fight opioids with information sharing, patient matching

The group says privacy can still be maintained while giving care providers secure access to relevant substance abuse data and calls on Congress to allow HHS to pursue patient ID strategies.
By Mike Miliard
01:51 PM
AHIMA calls on Congress to fight opioids with information sharing, patient matching

The American Health Information Management Association is on Capitol Hill this week, in support of two bills that could help address the opioid epidemic through better, more secure information sharing.

AHIMA officials are advocating for the pieces of proposed legislation, one in the Senate and one in the House. H.R.3545, (the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act) and S.1850 (Protecting Jessica Grubb's Legacy Act) both seek to prevent more patient overdoses by enabling physicians to get information about patients' addiction treatment – something that's currently not allowed without explicit patient consent.

[Also: CHIME: Improved data sharing, patient identifiers needed for opioid fight]

AHIMA said that secure and appropriate sharing of substance abuse data can help ensure physicians know enough to give patients the integrated care they need.

"We are facing one of the nation’s deadliest substance abuse epidemics, and it’s time for the laws put into place decades ago to reflect the needs of the industry today," said Pamela Lane, AHIMA's vice president of government relations. "AHIMA’s members consistently work to find the balance between two important priorities in healthcare – access to information and the privacy of health records. Today, urging support of these bills, we are working to achieve both."

The goal is to find a middle ground, modernizing privacy protocols to comply with HIPAA while also maximizing quality by letting healthcare providers see relevant information when it directly affects their provision of care, officials said.

AHIMA is also encouraging Congress to further a nationwide patient matching strategy, asking it to lift the existing ban currently restraining the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services  from working with the healthcare industry to create a system for patient ID.

"We must make the shift toward a patient matching strategy that ensures the correct patient is matched with the correct information, every time," said Lane.

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com