TL;DR On Thursday, August 22, Verato CEO Mark LaRow presented, by invitation, at the 3rd annual ONC Interoperability Forum alongside Jay Butterbrodt, Director of Product Management at Imprivata, and Nick Bonvino, CEO of Greater Houston Healthconnect. The presentation was titled “Using Biometrics and Referential Matching in a Regional HIE Context to Provide Better Patient Access to Data.” The key takeaways:
- Patient access to data depends on identification of the patient and matching of the patient with all of their data
- This is challenging for a variety of reasons
- The marriage of biometrics and referential matching offers a good solution
- HIEs are well positioned to improve patient experiences by using referential matching to improve their patient matching and bridge biometrics across providers
Here’s a deeper dive recap:
Patient Access To Data Presents A Staggering Challenge And Depends On Two Things
Mark began the presentation by highlighting the challenges associated with patients accessing their data, starting with the enormous scale of the situation: 330M people in the U.S. who are trying to access 30B+ health records spread across tens of thousands of domains. The challenge lies in identifying each patient in the physical world then matching that patient to their records in the digital world. And this challenge is being further compounded by the fact that patients are accessing their data in new ways—not just in person, but now through apps and portals, too.
This Is Challenging Because Historically, Demographic Data Has Been The Foundation
Mark explained that healthcare organizations have historically used demographic data to identify patients and to match them to their medical records and data about them. But there are challenges in using demographic data. First, when patients present themselves, demographics do not do a good job of ensuring the patient is who they say they are—in other words, demographics cannot prove the patient’s identity or authenticate the patient. And second, 30% of demographic data stored in databases is out-of-date, incorrect, or incomplete—because people move, change their names, etc.—which makes it very difficult to associate a patient’s demographics to the demographics in their records, resulting in a duplicate or inaccurate record.
A Compelling Solution Lies In The Natural Marriage Between Biometrics And Referential Matching
Mark and Jay then discussed the natural marriage that exists between using biometrics to prove and authenticate a patient’s identity and using referential matching to match the patient to all their existing records. Jay talked about how biometrics and its error-free entry establish a “trust anchor” that is maintained across every instance in which a patient presents themselves to the healthcare organization. Then Mark talked about how referential matching is the only matching technology that (1) overcomes persistent problems that typically cause matching to fail, (2) can match patients to all of their historical records, and (3) can act as a “lowest common denominator” that can connect patient identities across organizations or facilities that use different biometrics. In tandem, biometrics and referential matching offer an end-to-end solution for trusted patient identity.
An Example: An Accurate Community MPI Is Essential For Health Information Exchange
Nick took the stage next to discuss the necessity of having a community master patient index (MPI) to facilitate health information exchange. Greater Houston Healthconnect (GHH) faces many patient matching challenges—including its participants having duplicate records and having hundreds of thousands of patients with the same name, birthdate, and gender. Nick argued that a broadcast query like Cross-Community Patient Discovery (XCPD) is an insufficient method to find and match patient identities and discussed real results to prove that GHH’s community MPI is a better method.
HIEs Can Be A Bridge Across Domains For Improved Patient Experiences
Mark advocated that HIEs are well positioned to improve patients’ experiences. While patients often enjoy biometric identification at the point of service because it’s easy—no identification card to remember and no password to recall—Mark raised the fact that it becomes awkward for patients when they have to re-enroll in biometrics across different healthcare organizations, or when biometrics fail to connect to all of their medical records. He explained how by using referential matching an HIE has the opportunity to serve as the coordination point for patient identity resolution across many healthcare organizations. In this environment, patients only have to “enroll” in a biometric once—in order to use that biometric across multiple healthcare organizations and be confident that that biometric is associated with all of their data.
A Biometrics + Referential Matching Pilot At Greater Houston Healthconnect
Nick wrapped up the presentation by highlighting his plans at Greater Houston Healthconnect to explore a pilot with referential matching and explore community-wide biometric coordination.