By Robert Barker, Infoglide Senior VP & Chief Marketing Officer
Confusion about medical records can lead to chaos. We’ve all heard horror stories about hospital tragedies caused by misidentification of a patient, such as applying an unnecessary surgery. It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of correct, unambiguous information in the practice of medicine. Knowing as much as possible about a patient enables a practitioner to reach a correct diagnosis and the proper treatment regimen in the least amount of time.
Underscoring the importance that accurate information plays in effective treatment, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) passed in 2009 includes incentives for hospitals and doctors to adopt and support certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. In fact, the Act set aside $20 billion to encourage health care organizations to improve their recordkeeping through healthcare information technology.
Today’s hot healthcare industry topic, therefore, is electronic health records. While an EHR can create the potential for interoperability, it can’t deliver interoperability without robust identity resolution. High-quality health care depends on complete, unambiguous patient information being available at all times, so identity resolution technology has become a crucial component of a well-designed healthcare identification infrastructure.
By applying identity resolution to patient identification integrity, identity resolution can prevent common medical errors:
Duplicates are a simple example, where the two records exist for the same person within a single facility. More complex types of errors can easily start to mount up, including overlaps where more than one record exists for one person within two facilities within a single organization, and overlays where information for two people are integrated under a single record.
The rush to respond to ARRA resulted in overstatements of the identity resolution capabilities of many products. For example, most master data management (MDM) systems include matching and de-duplication capabilities that have become labeled “identity resolution” while in fact they lack the critical requirements for identity resolution. Dan Power of Hub Solution Designs has pointed out the growing role of identity resolution in MDM and the need for MDM vendors to move beyond “not invented here” thinking to incorporate true identity resolution into their offerings.
Confusion about medical records can lead to chaos. Clearing up confusion about identity resolution clears a path out of the chaos that will lead to better solutions.