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ONC Announces Patient Matching Initiative

September 11, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has announced a collaborative patient matching initiative, a representative for the government agency announced in a blog post this week.

The ONC’s initiative will aim to identify and recommend standardization of the basic attributes most commonly used for patient matching including common fields such as name, date of birth, address, sex, cell phone number and new criteria such as emergency contact and insurer. They’ll also define the processes and practices most effective for supporting high positive patient matching rates utilizing these attributes.

The initiative will include environmental scans and widespread literature reviews to inform stakeholders, which include a number of healthcare associations such as the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). In a statement, CHIME expressed its outright support for this initiative.

“Patient data-matching is a foundational component to the exchange of electronic health information – which, in turn, is a critical component for improved care coordination and quality improvement,” stated CHIME President and CEO Russell P. Branzell.  “Despite years of development, no clear strategy has emerged to accurately and consistently match patient data.  As we advance interoperability and health information exchange, we are delighted to see ONC take action to ensure the right data is matched with the right patient.  This is a necessary, concrete step to bolster patient safety.”

Along with CHIME and HIMSS, partners in this initaitive with the ONC include the Federal Health Architecture – which is made up of more than 20 federal agencies (Department of Health & Human Services, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration), the Bipartisan Policy Center, HealtheWay, the EHR/HIE Interoperability Work Group, and many large integrated delivery networks and state and local health information exchange organizations. Audacious Inquiry (Ai), a Baltimore-based government contractor that has provided technical support for the Maryland Health Information Exchange (CRISP), will support these activities.

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