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Recapping the ONC Webinar on Patient Identity and Matching


On Monday, June 1, The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) hosted a working session on patient identity and matching.

Forty speakers from various healthcare organizations shared their perspectives on what would improve patient matching. While there were many ideas shared and evidenced by the volume of attendance, the consensus was: patient matching continues to be a pervasive problem in the American healthcare system

Verato customer New York eHealth Collaborative was one of the presenters. Dheeraj Pal, Senior Technical Lead, listed some of the many challenges in achieving interoperability, including: frequently changing patient information, to lack of standardization in data entry, and default information being entered into key value fields. The most alarming, but not surprising in his large health information exchange, challenge was the high volume of duplicate records, which he cited as being as high as 45%.

Verato CEO, Mark LaRow presented too. In his presentation, he highlighted three approaches accepted as potential solutions to the patient matching problem:

1) Creating a universal patient ID

2) Improving the data

3) Adopting improved patient matching the technology.

While the concept of creating a universal patient ID is technically viable, LaRow stressed that it would take 10-15 years to implement. Similarly, improving the data through standardization will take a long time to be adopted and even when fully adopted still be fraught with error. He reiterated that, even if either of these approaches were implemented, matching technology would still be required, as misspellings and data errors would still occur and need to be corrected.

Action needs to be taken today to improve the patient experience, and according to LaRow, the best way to do so is by improving the technology. Mark reminded the audience that referential matching, which uniquely augments the 30% of data that is inaccurate, incomplete and inconsistent with reference data, facilitates matching where it may otherwise not occur. This does not require you to improve data at the source. Referential Matching, like that offered by Verato, is a quick to deploy, helps improve existing systems, and supports a universal patient ID or data standardization if they are adopted.

As the final presenter of the day, Dr Rucker, reiterated that with the COVID-19 crisis the need for interoperability has never been more apparent. We agree, person identity data has never mattered more.

However, despite the strong participation in the forum and the agreement that something needs to be done, the path forward remains debated. While many long-term approaches were suggested, few satisfy the urgent need that exists in healthcare today. Ideas like biometrics and universal patient ID will add value, but they take time. Considering innovative patient matching technologies that are available, are quick to deploy, and proven to integrate easily is the most immediate way to improve patient data quality.

Take action. Schedule a demo with us today to learn how we can help you quickly and easily resolve patient identity record issues.