ONC Reports on the State of Patient Matching Technology

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has issued a report on findings of the current status of patient matching technology.

The report is based on an environmental scan, literature review, and input from stakeholders and federal agencies. In a blog posting, ONC lists the core findings:

* Any changes to patient data attributes in exchange transactions should be coordinated with organizations working on parallel efforts to standardize health care transactions.

* Certification criteria should be introduced that require certified EHR technology (CEHRT) to capture the data attributes that would be required in the standardized patient identifying attributes.

* The ability of additional, non-traditional data attributes to improve patient matching should be studied.

* Certification criteria should not be created for patient matching algorithms or require organizations to utilize a specific type of algorithm.

* Certification criteria that requires certified EHR technology to perform patient matching demonstrates the ability to generate and provide to end users reports that detail potential duplicate patient records should be considered.

* Build on the initial best practices that emerged during the environmental scan by convening industry stakeholders to consider a more formal structure for establishing best practices for the matching process and data governance.

* Work with the industry to develop best practices and policies to encourage consumers to keep their information current and accurate.

* Work with health care professional associations and the ONC Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience (SAFER) Guide initiative to develop and disseminate educational and training materials detailing best practices for accurately capturing and consistently verifying patient data attributes.

* Continue collaborating with federal agencies and the industry on improving patient identification and matching processes.

A 93-page report, in PDF form, is available here. The findings will inform continued discussions between ONC and stakeholders, particularly the HIT Policy and Standards Committees that advise federal officials. A report on the findings is available here.


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