The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has launched a program to identify and standardize basic attributes used for matching patients to their data.

These attributes include such common fields as name, date of birth, address, sex, cell phone number, emergency contact and insurer, Lee Stevens, ONC policy director of the state health information exchange program, explains in a new posting on the ONC blog page. “As part of the new Patient Matching Initiative, environmental scans and widespread literature reviews will be conducted to inform the next steps in the project.”

Partners include 20 federal agencies, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, Health Information Management and Systems Society, Bipartisan Policy Center, HealtheWay and the EHR/HIE Interoperability Work Group, as well as multiple large delivery systems and state or regional health information exchanges that were not immediately identified. Participants expect to forward recommendations to ONC later this year.

Audacious Inquiry, an information technology contractor for local, state and federal government agencies with experience implementing patient matching programs, will support the new ONC initiative.

In a statement, Russell Branzell, president and CEO at CHIME, said, “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.”

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