AUG 14, 2014 5:00am ET

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Health Information Exchange Requires Nationwide Patient Data Matching Strategy

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The Electronic Health Record Association has called for a nationwide patient data matching strategy to ensure the accurate, timely, and efficient matching of patients with their healthcare data across different systems and settings of care.

In an Aug. 12 letter to the Senate Finance Committee, EHRA argued that a nationwide patient data matching strategy remains “one of the most critical unresolved issues in the safe and secure electronic exchange of health information” in this country. According to the organization, which represents 40 EHR companies, the problem is that patients often have medical records in multiple locations including hospitals, physician practices, laboratories, pharmacies and other settings.

“To improve patient safety and data interoperability, a consistent nationwide patient data matching strategy should be a priority,” EHRA told Senate committee members in response to their query regarding the availability and utility of healthcare data. “Patient identification that ensures accurate patient record matching across provider sites is a primary concern when aggregating patient information from multiple organizations. Error rates in existing technologies that manage patient identification are sufficiently high to cause concern about medical errors, redundant testing, and inefficiency.”

In February, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released the “Patient Identification and Matching Final Report”--conducted by Audacious Inquiry, LLC--which found that methods of matching patient records have not been adopted uniformly across the industry. For instance, the report warned that differences in how names and addresses are formatted in various systems has led to high rates of unmatched records, when unaffiliated organizations are participating in health information exchange.

Other issues and circumstances that lead to unmatched or mismatched records include the quality of data as it is entered into systems at the source of patient registration, and the creation of duplicate records for the same patient within a system, according to the ONC-funded report.

“Identification and broad adoption of interoperability transaction and data standards is necessary to mitigate the costs (direct and indirect) of supporting non-standard approaches to data sharing,” asserts EHRA in its letter to senators. The organization “continues to support the efforts to build an interoperable healthcare system” and believes that the “consistent implementation of existing health IT data definition and transmission standards not only support the Meaningful Use Incentive Program, but is an essential component of national healthcare reform.”

Originally published by Health Data Management.

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Comments (2)
Yes, and it is not just patient information that needs to be standardized across the healthcare industry. The problem is that there is an 's' at the end of the word standards....but the time has finally come, and the government(s) are finally going to do it. Remember, the US is one of many!
Posted by Adrienne T | Thursday, August 14 2014 at 10:41AM ET
I'm glad that a data sector with such huge potential in minimizing redundancy as healthcare sector is finally waking up to the possibilities of fruitfully using big data and assimilation. It is good for both patients and people within the services. Forming a solid base of data processes and a model which can repeat tasks, crunch helpful data, match up redundant data and back up info like symptoms and common medication etc. (More here about solid cloud based data models: http://ibm.co/1qOBpOW)is critical to tomorrow's prospects.
Posted by Eamon W | Friday, August 22 2014 at 12:17AM ET
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