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March Madness for Providers: Choose a Patient Matching Champion or Get Eliminated

Just for Fun

With the rise of the consumerization of healthcare, patients are being put in the driver’s seat. They are empowered with the ability to choose where and how they seek care. Electronic access to one’s medical records is a critical component of this movement. But with anywhere from 10% to 30% of all patients’ records containing missing or inaccurate information, providers must ask themselves: are we ready for patients to access their medical records? The providers who step up to the challenge and ensure that their patients’ electronic health records are complete and accurate will instantly gain a competitive advantage: patient loyalty.

With the March Madness Tournament on the horizon, the word loyalty brings sports to mind. Let’s imagine patients as fans and providers as teams to be placed on a bracket of care options. The March Madness tournament started with only eight teams 1939, doubled to 16 in 1951 and now has 68 teams competing. This is similar to the healthcare industry: with the proliferation of walk-in-clinics, urgent care centers, and digital-based care such as telehealth, the playing field for providers has dramatically widened.

March Madness brackets are powered by fans. Fans select teams to advance through their brackets based on statistical data, sentiment, and records of demonstrated success. In a sense, the March Madness tournament bracket is the ultimate team “review” of the season, with fans selecting the team that they believe has the highest chance of succeeding as the final champion.

Sports fans are some of the most loyal consumers out there. They buy in or subscribe to teams full-heartedly and intensely mourn their losses and celebrate their wins. So, what drives a sports fan to decide to back a certain team? They may choose to simply go with a team that is local, but on a deeper level, fans choose teams that they have a tie to or that brings them value (a sense of pride from winning, or in the case of the March Madness tournament, monetary winnings). Fans typically place teams with high-achieving players and a history of success higher in the bracket in order to increase their chance of winning. This is the same way that patients will begin to seek care providers – they will seek care from the providers that are able to provide them with the most value.

The biggest obstacle impeding providers from delivering on the promise of value-based and consumer-oriented care is data issues – more specifically, the inability to accurately match the right data to the right patient, or “patient matching.” Accurate patient matching is absolutely essential for the coming wave of patients accessing their records. Because when patients see that information is missing from their records – or worse, when they are exposed to other patients’ information – they are going to blame the providers (or the team) for the failure. And patients are increasingly empowered to eliminate these providers from their bracket of care options. A provider’s ability to accurately match patients will decide whether they are the chosen care champion of their patients.

So, which providers have the best chance of being crowned their patients’ champions?

Providers that rely on their EHRs to connect all of their patient data might qualify for the tournament, but they will quickly falter and be eliminated because EHRs are notoriously bad at patient matching. Providers with conventional on-premise enterprise master patient index (EMPI) tools might make it to the Sweet 16, but these tools run on antiquated technology, are extremely complex, and cannot resolve patient identities consistently enough or well enough to support emerging needs – so these providers will eventually be eliminated as well. Newer EMPI technologies – like those that are cloud hosted – could position providers to make it the elite eight, or even the final four. However, these solutions still require significant tuning and maintenance, and have long integration timelines. More importantly, they still use patient matching techniques that rely on the quality of the patient data in your systems, meaning they still miss data connections that will become very apparent to your patients when they access their records.

In the end, one champion will be declared.

Verato offers hyper-accurate, cloud-based patient matching at a fraction of the cost of conventional MPIs. Our next-generation patient matching technology, called Referential Matching, combines sophisticated algorithms with a highly-curated reference database and is the gold standard in patient matching. RESTful APIs allow for simple, easy, vendor-agnostic enterprise-wide integration. Simply put, our patient matching technology is the most valuable player to add to your team. It will position you to become your patients’ champion by ensuring they are accessing their complete and correct records. Don’t let your patients eliminate you, be their champions instead.