CHIME drops National Patient ID Challenge

Experts point to ONC’s own challenge as evidence that algorithms are a more effective approach to the patient record matching problem.
By Bill Siwicki
04:48 PM
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CHIME drops National Patient ID Challenge

CHIME revealed that it is suspending its National Patient ID Challenge.  

After two years of work, the CHIME Healthcare Innovation Trust put the global competition aimed at incentivizing innovators to create a solution for ensuring 100 percent accuracy in identifying patients in the U.S.

“The CHIME challenge helped underscore the importance of patient identification and matching in fostering the interoperable exchange of health data, and the difficulty in addressing this perennial problem in healthcare,” said Ben Moscovitch, manager of health information technology at The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Pew is conducting research on ways to advance patient matching – whether through better standards for demographic data elements or increased patient control in having their records matched.”

[Also: Warren to CMS: Medical device identifier requirements should be a 'no-brainer']

Improving matching – and ensuring patients and clinicians have the information they need – requires collaboration across healthcare, including among health IT developers and healthcare providers, Moscovitch added.

The average duplication rate in a healthcare organization’s medical records is between 8 and 12 percent, according to the American Health Information Management Association. Duplicate medical records can result when a single patient has multiple records connected to them or when a single medical record has co-mingled data from multiple patients.

This is a serious problem in healthcare, and one that many believe can be solved with a national patient identifier, a single way for uniquely identifying an individual receiving healthcare in the United States. Industry associations including AHIMA, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society all have worked toward solving the patient ID dilemma.

[Also: ONC contest winners find innovative algorithms to fix patient matching problem]

“We firmly believe that accurate patient identification is fundamental to patient care today and that innovation will lead to better, more affordable, more accessible and more equitable care,” said Russell Branzell, CHIME CEO. “Though we’ve made great progress and moved the industry forward in many ways through the challenge, we ultimately did not achieve the results we sought to this complex problem. We decided the best course of addressing this patient safety hazard is to redirect our attention and resources to another strategy.”

That strategy is to help develop a patient identification task force through its CHIME Healthcare Innovation Trust. CHIME says it is well positioned to bring together health IT leaders from the provider community and industry as well as policymakers and others to build a multisector task force.

[Also: Pew to ONC chief Rucker: Patient matching and data standardization can fix interoperability]

But others have been working on the problem, too, and while they believe CHIME has done good work, they feel they also have much to contribute.

Some in the industry believe the news from CHIME along with work from the ONC offer a path forward.

“We’d like to thank CHIME because this competition has pushed the industry to explore whether things like biometrics and blockchain can truly solve our nation’s patient matching and patient identification problems,” said Mark LaRow, CEO of Verato, an identity resolution and matching platform vendor. “And it is clear now that the answer is no. The recent ONC patient matching algorithm challenge proved that algorithms are the right direction for solving patient matching.”

On another front, earlier this year, the Regenstrief Institute won a five-year, $1.7 million grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for development and testing of automated patient identification approaches.

Officials at Regenstrief’s Center for Biomedical Informatics said they will use the funding to build on more than 15 years of work in matching patient records. And their researchers also will work with the Indiana Network for Patient Care, the largest inter-organizational clinical data repository in the country, to create and test new patient ID methods in a real-world setting.

“Matching the correct individual to his or her health data is critical to their medical care,” Shaun Grannis, MD, principal investigator for the new grant at Regenstrief, said in a statement. “Statistics show that up to one in five patient records are not accurately matched even within the same healthcare system. As many as half of patient records are mismatched when data is transferred between healthcare systems.”

Also this year, healthcare IT security company Imprivata partnered with Just Associates in an attempt to position its Imprivata PatientSecure tool as a top patient ID and data integrity tool for healthcare organizations. The partners said they will prevent misidentification by retroactively cleaning up patient data and proactively eliminating the creation of duplicate and overlaid medical records.

To avoid patient matching problems, Imprivata PatientSecure identifies patients at the source and launches a one-to-one link between a patient’s biometric and unique electronic medical record.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com