AHIMA pushes for patient matching

Meryl BloomrosenMeryl Bloomrosen

Leaders say matching right patient to right data is critical to ensuring safety

"The mismatch between patients and their clinical data is a serious and growing patient safety issue," says Meryl Bloomrosen, vice president of thought leadership, practice excellence and public policy at AHIMA, the organization of health information management professionals.

Bloomrosen was among a group of HIM professionals at a town hall meeting on the topic of patient matching Wednesday at AHIMA’s annual convention in Atlanta.

To maximize the safety and security of patient medical records, steps must be taken to ensure the proper matching of healthcare information in the electronic health record and in the process of health information exchange, AHIMA leaders say.

[See also: CIOs push for patient ID progress.]

"Although the nation’s healthcare community is moving forward for the adoption of electronic health records and health information exchange capabilities, there is a growing sense of urgency to develop a national approach and strategy to effectively deal with ongoing and significant challenges regarding patient matching," Bloomrosen said in a news release.

Participants at AHIMA’s town hall discussed:

  • What technological and organizational considerations affect accurate patient matching
  • What approaches organizations are using to achieve accurate patient matching
  • What the top three barriers and/or risks are to attain and secure the integrity of patient matching for healthcare and how can they be mitigated

"HIM professionals are on the front lines in dealing with patient matching," added AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, in a statement. "This type of forum serves as a temperature gauge allowing members to learn and share. Our discussion will help AHIMA frame and inform future discussions with federal agencies and industry leaders.

"Patient matching is essential to avoid duplicate records and to reduce instances of incomplete or fragmented patient information," she explained. "AHIMA and its members have longstanding experience dealing with patient matching work flow and process, nuances and pitfalls, and stand ready to provide lessons learned. Accurate patient identification is foundational to the successful linking of patient records within healthcare delivery sites and across the healthcare ecosystem. Successful patient matching is key to care delivery, data exchange, analytics, and critical business and clinical processes. We know that effective solutions require more than technology or statistical algorithms." 

AHIMA’s discussion comes on the heels of an announcement this fall by the Office of the National Coordinator that it's launching its Patient Matching Initiative, a project to help identify the common features and best practices being used in the private sector and the government.

[See also: ONC tackles patient matching problem.]

AHIMA’s Health Information Exchange Practice Council has been working to update and revise AHIMA’s existing patient identity/matching practice brief, "Managing the Integrity of Patient Identity in Health Information Exchange." It will be available in 2014.