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AHIMA: Understanding the Value of a National Patient Matching Strategy

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The need for healthcare systems to exchange patient information quickly, affordably and safely makes a national patient matching program critical.  Without the ability to ensure that multiple healthcare systems involved in sharing accurate patient health information through a patient matching strategy, some systems are applying best practices to proactively address the issue, said presenters at American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) 87th Annual Convention and Exhibit.  Health Information Exchange (HIE) interoperability at a fundamental level requires the matching or linking of an individual patient across multiple healthcare organizations. Healthcare systems have managed this function internally with health information management (HIM) professionals dedicated to manual clean-up but the costs are high – one organization estimated that it costs about $60 in operational costs to correct a duplicate entry, according to the Patient Identification and Matching Report (Office of the National Coordinator, Feb. 2015) – and the information isn’t always timely.  Privacy also is a concern.

To address the problem, organizations need to institute information governance practices including recommendations for standardized naming conventions, daily reconciliation, monthly trending and a robust training program. Using additional data also is important, said the presenters.  Instituting a standard format and accepted definitions for data element capture minimizes the burden on staffing in routine business operations, providing long term financial relief,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA. “AHIMA stands behind those who are leading the charge to formalize definitions and institute nationally recognized standards for a patient matching strategy.”

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