Matching Patients to EHRs, Other Data

Tiger Team Looks Into Best Practices to Protect Privacy, Ensure Quality
Matching Patients to EHRs, Other Data
The Privacy and Security Tiger Team will hold an all-day hearing Thursday on the issue of matching patients to all their relevant information, including electronic health records and financial data, to help ensure privacy as well as the quality of care.

The tiger team is making a series of recommendations to the HIT Policy Committee on how to ensure the privacy and security of information that's shared through health information exchanges and other networks. The committee is carrying out mandates of the HITECH Act. Ultimately, the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will make recommendations on new regulations.

The Thursday event is designed to gather testimony to help define why accuracy in matching patients to the right clinical and financial information is important, such as to make sure no one gains inappropriate access to records and that appropriate treatment decisions are made. The hearing also will gather testimony outlining options for achieving that matching. Patient identifiers, a master patient index, probabilistic matching software and biometrics are among the many technologies that can play a role in this matching.

Patient Matching Challenges

An executive with Catholic Healthcare West, a system of 41 hospitals and medical centers, will testify on the challenges involved in patient matching. "Unless the issue is appropriately addressed, it could truly hamper the use of electronic health records and affect the way providers can coordinate care," according to the written testimony of Scott Whyte, a senior director at Catholic Healthcare West.

He calls for federal regulators to "establish a roadmap or framework that will allow stakeholders, including providers, states, patients, consumer advocates, vendors, payers and the federal government, to tackle this problem in a manageable way that is cost-effective, elevates best practices and promotes interoperability."

In his written testimony, Paul Oates, senior enterprise architect at CIGNA, a health insurer, calls on regulators to identify best practices for patient matching, including "the use of advanced probabilistic matching software."

At the hearing, a number of companies will describe the technologies they offer for matching patients to the right records.

About the Author

Howard Anderson

Howard Anderson

Former News Editor, ISMG

Anderson was news editor of Information Security Media Group and founding editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity and DataBreachToday. He has more than 40 years of journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues. Before launching HealthcareInfoSecurity, he served as founding editor of Health Data Management magazine, where he worked for 17 years, and he served in leadership roles at several other healthcare magazines and newspapers.

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