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NextGate argues for patient matching technology to promote healthcare interoperability


NextGate has submitted its views on patient matching for proposed rules to promote interoperability to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), arguing for the use of patient-generated data on mobile devices, particularly biometric data, as part of a long-term strategy for enhanced patient matching.

The company also supports the use of IHE standards relevant to patient matching, such as PIX and PDQ, and defining criteria for data elements, rather than the imposition of a specific matching algorithm or software solution for patient matching by CMS. It also advocates for the standardization of demographic data elements, such as patient address, and cautionary use of third-party reference data, which does not support matching efforts for children or immigrants.

The CMS has found that a single uniform patient identifier is neither necessary nor sufficient for needed matching levels, and NextGate agrees, suggesting that standards for demographic data, use of an enterprise master patient index (EMPI) with other technologies to integrate disparate systems, and robust organizational data governance programs to improve data capture are the most promising paths for patient matching.

“Rather than a centralized patient identity matching strategy, we favor a ‘bottoms-up’ approach that builds on the activities of healthcare organizations and communities to implement an EMPI-based strategy that integrates disparate systems and that emphasizes the need for continual increases in the quality of the underlying data used for matches,” the letter states.

NextGate also praised ONC’s efforts to understand the state of patient matching and promote standards and technical development in a separate letter, urging the organization to look beyond EHR-only requirements for matching data elements. EHRs are not the only mechanism used by enterprises to manage identity, the company notes.

NextGate offers facial recognition technology as part of its flagship EMPI solution, which manages patient identities for more than two-thirds of the U.S., and one third of the UK and Australia.

Mismatched patient records are still a significant problem for many hospital CIO’s, and companies including Imprivata have developed biometric solutions to help solve the problem.

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