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Sequoia Project Revises National Patient Matching Framework

June 14, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The nonprofit Sequoia Project, an industry advocate for nationwide interoperability, has released a revised national patient matching framework.

The updated whitepaper, entitled “A Framework for Cross-Organizational Patient Identity Management 2018,” is a multi-dimensional document featuring a matching maturity model, a detailed case study and specific practices for a national patient matching framework, according to officials from the Sequoia Project, which released the paper on June 12.

“When we released the proposed minimal practices document a few years ago we knew patient matching was one of the most significant challenges to nationwide health information sharing,” Eric Heflin, chief technology officer for the Sequoia Project and lead author of the paper, said in a statement. “So, we were pleased to receive robust and detailed feedback during the public comment period, as well as many experts volunteering their time and considerable operational knowledge to improve the national-level guidance.”

For the revision process, the Sequoia Project convened a Patient Identity Management Workgroup, comprised of industry, academic, standards and government experts.  It was charged with dispositioning comments to develop final recommendations for improved patient identity management.

In addition to affirming the draft guidance, the workgroup incorporated new proposals to support the unique patient identifier challenges of pediatrics. According to Sequoia Project officials, “There is currently no widely employed naming convention for newborns, specifically, patients who have not yet received their legal name and have a temporary name. Of course, babies do not have social security numbers or other government–assigned identification at the time of birth. The issue is further complicated in the instance of multiple births, such as triplets, and the need for in-utero procedures.”

The full paper, including details about the study and the proposed framework for how to implement the findings nationally, is available for public use on the Sequoia Project website.

“This paper provides a roadmap for advancing our national patient matching strategy. We hope to see organizations adopt these minimal practices and maturity model for patient matching with their external health information exchange partners,” said Heflin. “If we can standardize, in practice, how EMRs [electronic medical records] and HIOs [health information organizations] leverage existing standards, we will increase patient match rates dramatically even in the absence of having a national unique patient identifier.”

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