This is part of a recurring blog series, called Life Among Duplicate Records. We encourage you to share your own matching nightmares by tweeting us at @Verato_Software.
I come from a big family, so I am not the only one to suffer from the St. Thomas-specific variety of patient matching woes. While we share our war stories often (only half of us have been able to finagle a period into our last names on social media, and we have all spent hours on the phone with various customer service lines), there is one anecdote that is always the first to come to mind.
My younger brother shares my last name. While in college, he had his sights set on PhD programs and was determined to start right after undergrad. During his senior year, he buckled down and studied for the GRE. All of his hard work paid off when he got a perfect score on the math section.
When he took the test, he registered his last name as “St. Thomas.” The results were delivered to him in this format, and he thought all was good… until he had to set up an account to send the results along with his applications.
While searching for his record, he got the dreaded error that the period in St. Thomas is not permitted in the search field. This is contrary to the rules that allowed the period during registration for the exam. Suddenly, the GRE had a duplicate record for my brother – one in which he was a new St Thomas that had not taken the exam, and another perfect-score St. Thomas account seemingly inaccessible to him.
The thought of taking the test again, this time months after studying -- and probably not doing as well -- was heartbreaking. And as application deadlines loomed, the possibility of missing deadlines became all too real. All of this added stress of a duplicate record was haunting my poor brother.
After many hours talking to different customer service representatives at GRE, my brother was finally able to sort the mistake out and access his score. But it took him recognizing the problem and taking substantial effort to resolve it.
If the GRE used Referential Matching in their approach to data management, they would have recognized “St. Thomas” as a common alternative to “St Thomas”, and my brother would have been able to proceed as normal with his graduate school applications. While healthcare is certainly different than the GRE, our demographic data challenges persist across industries and record management systems. A Referential Matching approach is uniquely able to help across all.