Inadequate Patient Matching Poses a Danger to Patients and Complicates Vaccine Distribution Efforts
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to improve patient record matching among health care providers and strengthen the country’s COVID-19 response efforts. The bipartisan Patient Matching Improvement Act works to address inadequate patient matching – the ability to link records for an individual patient across multiple health care providers – which can pose dangers to patients and complicates COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration efforts.
The Senators’ legislation would work to improve the exchange of health information between health IT systems, including those in hospitals, COVID-19 testing laboratories, and COVID-19 vaccination sites, by ensuring that the United States Postal Service (USPS) address-formatting tool – which is currently used by online retailers – is also available for use by health care providers. Research released in 2019 indicated that use of the USPS address formatting standards could result in tens of thousands of additional correct record linkages per day. Last year, Senator Hassan urged the Department of Health and Human Services and USPS to collaborate in modernizing health care records.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is the worst public health crisis that our country has witnessed in generations, and we must take full advantage of any technology that is available to us in order to contain this virus and save lives,” Senator Hassan said. “This bipartisan bill provides a simple solution to help improve the vaccination process, bolster contact tracing efforts, and more accurately track community spread. By giving the Postal Service’s existing address tools to health care providers, we can also help improve care for patients beyond the pandemic. I am glad to partner across the aisle with Senator Cassidy once again to improve our country’s health care system, and I look forward to working with him to get this bill across the finish line.”
“Identifying and containing COVID-19 before it spreads within a community is possible with existing technology. This bill provides an important tool to more quickly isolate the virus and save lives,” said Dr. Cassidy.
Senators Hassan and Cassidy are working together to improve health care for all Americans, and recently led successful efforts to include a provision in the year-end package that was signed into law to help end the absurd practice of surprise medical billing. Additionally, in 2019, President Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Hassan and Cassidy to close a loophole in the Medicaid rebate program that results in big pharmaceutical companies overcharging taxpayers. The bipartisan legislation will save taxpayers approximately $3.1 billion over the next 10 years.