In February 2020 the eHealth Initiative (eHI) published a new report, The State of Patient Matching in America, based on a survey of over 115 health information exchange (HIE) and provider organizations conducted by NextGate on their behalf. Over the past few years we have written numerous related blogs on the ONC PMAL Project, the GAO Report on Patient Matching, and an Update on Patient Matching Activities in the US. Patient matching is one of the areas called out by Congress in the 21st Century Cures Act for review and consideration.
In this new survey, eHI asked close to twenty multiple choice questions of the respondents. About two thirds were from provider organizations and the other third from HIEs. After identifying the biggest contributors to duplicate patient records (data entry errors, poor algorithms, and lack of system integration/interoperability), 80% of respondents conceded that they had staff dedicated to duplicate resolution. Most interestingly, 70% of respondents agreed completely or somewhat that a nationwide patient identifier strategy should be implemented, and additionally that Federal funding should be made available to create it. In terms of future direction, demographic data standardization and biometrics were the strategies considered most impactful, with referential matching and machine learning coming in behind.
So nothing was shocking about these results. The US continues to struggle with this issue; Congress continues to hamstring ONC in its ability to address it seriously. The ONC 2020 Final Rule on Interoperability did not further the matching issues at all; the request for information that was included in the earlier Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was acknowledged in the final rule but no specific action was taken.
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