I have written several times about patient matching in the US, both in a blog entry and a published article. On December 11, 2017 the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) sponsored a half-day “Interoperability in Action” webinar focused on Patient Matching Milestones at ONC (see agenda and slides). The webinar focused on four ONC projects from the past year. Here’s a quick run-down on what they covered.
New article by Dr. Noam Arzt published in Medical Research Archives:
Is There a National Strategy Emerging for Patient Matching in the US?
Patient record matching has been a key area of emphasis for healthcare, with several major efforts to identify best practices in the past decade. Because of a lack of a national patient identifier, several distinct approaches to patient matching in both the public and private sectors have emerged, which do not appear to be converging. One major focus of a number of patient matching initiatives is the identification of a core set of data elements found in most patient records, regardless of setting, to facilitate matching. These initiatives have also not yet converged. Some organizations participate in master patient index (MPI) deployments within their agency or jurisdiction. But participation in a shared MPI can also be challenging, and policies and processes for synchronizing record changes, among other issues, must be carefully considered. “Promising practices” should be identified from those jurisdictions that have lived through a migration to an enterprise MPI.
Accurate patient matching continues to be a challenge in healthcare, especially in an HIE environment (see my earlier HIMSS posting). No simple solution appears to be at hand. The issue is also inextricably linked to issues of patient identity which are also difficult to solve at our current level of technology. Several approaches have emerged, however, which do not yet seem to be converging. I would characterize the major approaches as follows: