eHi Survey: Patient Identity and the Impact of COVID-19

Public Health/Thought Leadership

This fall, Verato conducted a market survey in conjunction with the eHealth Initiative to gain a better understanding of how healthcare organizations are using patient identity/matching best practices and technologies in the context of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

We were curious to learn if accurate and reliable patient matching tools were in place, how those tools were supporting the pandemic, and the perceptions around patient matching of organizations providing patient care and data services.

In the context of this survey, patient matching and identity is defined as the overall practice of creating a clear, singular person record which encompasses all relevant healthcare records and historical data.

Survey respondents indicate challenges around clear patient identity are numerous, but especially stark for public health

Respondents agree, combining accurate data for clear patient identity can be a difficult challenge to solve. 64% of those surveyed said yes, there are significant challenges in matching patients to medical records. Of the 64% that said they are experiencing challenges around patient identity, those organization types responded differently:

  • Hospital Systems: 63% experience patient identity challenges
  • Healthcare Information Exchanges: 74% experience patient identity challenges
  • Public Health: 83% experience patient identity challenges

Clear and accurate patient identity is not a new challenge, but the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted a greater need and urgency to solve for it

COVID-19 has had sweeping and lasting impact on healthcare delivery models, data, and care coordination needs. Patient identity challenges are not new to the industry, but have affected organizations disproportionately. This appears to be due to the maturity of the organization’s technology ecosystem prior to the pandemic, and the challenges around the types and amount of data that organization must manage to maintain a standard and singular view of patient data.

  • 30% of respondents at Hospital Systems indicated that patient identity and matching challenges became more apparent during the pandemic.
  • 42% of respondents at HIE’s indicated that patient identity and matching challenges became more apparent during the pandemic.
  • 75% of respondents at Public Health organizations indicated that patient identity and matching challenges became more apparent during the pandemic.

COVID-19 has highlighted the critical need of patient matching for contact tracing, testing, vaccines

Many readers will agree the United States efforts to contain the pandemic via rigorous contact tracing and testing has fallen short of expectations, and certainly has not met the minimum standards recommended by epidemiologists and other experts. Survey respondents overwhelmingly agree that clear patient identity is critical to the ability to execute and manage testing, contact tracing, and vaccine distribution, but their confidence in accurate identity to execute those steps is very low.

The disparities in perceptions of the importance of clear patient identity vs. current execution of contact tracing efforts show:

  • 83% of survey respondents agree clear person identity to execute contact tracing is very important
  • 73% of survey respondents rated their confidence in accurate patient identity to execute contact tracing as somewhat confident to not at all confident
Confidence that individuals can be accurately identified for contact tracing is low.

Public Health and Providers are perceived as the “responsible party” to manage patient identity

Public Health agencies have fallen behind industry standards for person identity management due to years of decreased investments and lack of focus on technology for public health. This disconnect is clearly shown in this survey data and industry perceptions.

Learn more about how Verato is working with state and local public health agencies to provide fast, complete, and accurate data and identity services to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.