Sequoia Project proposes patient matching framework

Group aims to solve problem of incomplete patient matching hindering EHRs and HIE
By Jack McCarthy
12:04 PM

The lack of effective patient data matching is an ongoing obstacle to seamless information exchange between organizations, according to a new study released this week by The Sequoia Project and the Care Connectivity Consortium (CCC).

The study, a multi-year effort to examine best practices for patient matching with health information exchange partners, said that for EHRs to deliver on the promise of better healthcare, patient data must be sent and received easily among providers across disparate systems.

"These shared records must be accurate and useable," Mariann Yeager, CEO of The Sequoia Project CEO, and Michael Matthews, CEO of MedVirginia, wrote in an introduction to the study. "Patient matching is critical to the successful sharing of patient records, but the eHealth Exchange, the nation's largest health data sharing network, and many others have observed patient data matching is an ongoing obstacle to seamless information exchange between organizations."

The study proposes a framework for patient identity management and includes actionable best practices and a roadmap for future growth and improvement in nationwide patient matching strategies.

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Called, "A Framework for Cross-Organizational Patient Identity Management," the study features a case study of how Intermountain Healthcare increased successful match rates among exchange partners from 10 percent to greater than 95 percent. The paper also includes a proposed matching maturity model and specific practices for a national patient matching framework, now open to public comment.

The study also lists minimally acceptable patient matching practices for CIOs, CTOs and other technology leaders to adopt, if they haven't already, and this list establishes a "floor" in terms of matching patients across organizational boundaries.

"Right now, many care organizations are experiencing match rates that are far too low – reducing effectiveness of care, increasing costs, and impacting the patient experience," Eric Heflin, chief technology officer for The Sequoia Project and co-author of the paper, said in a statement.  "We need an approach that delivers the best possible means to match patients, and the paper released today clearly illustrates that it's possible and within reach, even without a curated national identifier."

The paper is available now on The Sequoia Project website, and all organizations with an interest in patient matching are encouraged to review the materials and provide feedback during the public comment period that will end on January 22, 2016.

The Sequoia Project is a non-profit 501c3 organization chartered to advance implementation of secure, interoperable nationwide health information exchange. The Care Connectivity Consortium is an interoperability collaboration working to improve and advance the technology available for electronic health information exchange across the country. It is comprised of healthcare organizations involved in the use of electronic medical records – Geisinger Health System, Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, Intermountain Healthcare and OCHIN.

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