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The Impact of Inaccurate Patient Data 

By Claire Thayer, November 18, 2015

Matching of patient records to the correct person is of utmost importance in terms of patient safety and quality of care, yet gets complicated when organizations share their records electronically either with different EHR platforms or across multiple healthcare systems as well as when patients use different settings to receive their care.   The Patient Identification and Matching Initiative, sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), focused on identifying incremental steps to help ensure the accuracy of every patient’s identity. A few of the key findings outlined in the ONC’s  Patient Identification and Matching Final Report report suggest:

  • Standardized patient identifying attributes should be required in the relevant exchange transactions.
  • Any changes to patient data attributes in exchange transactions should be coordinated with organizations working on parallel efforts to standardize healthcare 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.
  • Certification criteria that requires CEHRT that performs patient matching to demonstrate the ability to generate and provide to end users reports that detail potential duplicate patient records should be considered.

Also referenced in the extensive 85+ page ONC report: One-fifth of CIOs surveyed by College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) indicated that at least one patient in the last year suffered an adverse event, due to mis-matched records. While exact cost impact is hard to gauge, one health system reported that poor patient matching is associated with an operational cost of fixing a duplicate record at $60. The overall impact of inaccurate patient data was the focus of a recent MCOL infographoid, highlighted below:


MCOL’s weekly infoGraphoid is a benefit for MCOL Basic members and released each Wednesday as part of the MCOL Daily Factoid e-newsletter distribution service – find out more here.

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