- The Regenstrief Institute’s Center for Biomedical Informatics (CBMI) recently began work to develop an automated patient EHR matching solution, using a new $1.7 million grant.*
Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the project was financed by a $2.5 million grant.
During the five-year project, Regenstrief researchers will develop and test evidence-based solutions to improve patient matching accuracy and reduce patient harm caused by health record misidentification.
The project will incorporate CBMI’s 15 years of experience in patient health record matching, as well as the resources provided by the Indiana Network for Patient Care (INPC), which houses the largest inter-organizational clinical database in the United States.
The INPC was created by CBMI and is now operated by the Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE.) The clinical data repository offers Regenstrief researchers an appropriate environment for patient EHR matching solution development and real-world testing.
“Matching the correct individual to his or her health data is critical to their medical care,” said CBMI Director Shaun Grannis, MD, MS. “Statistics show that up to one in five patient records are not accurately matched even within the same health care system. As many as half of patient records are mismatched when data is transferred between health care systems.”
Mismatched patient EHRs can have a negative impact on care delivery, clinical efficiency, and patient health outcomes.
“Before you can gather clinical data, you must know exactly which patient you are talking about,” said Grannis. “Our work will help electronic medical record systems better and more accurately bring together a patient’s information. Ensuring more accurate patient identification helps to reduce the number of preventable medical errors, ultimately achieving better health outcomes, which is our mission.”
Grannis added that other health IT innovators and healthcare organizations have proposed potential patient identification solutions in the past, but there presently exists a lack of evidence-based approaches.
Regenstrief’s CBMI plans to devise real-world, evidence-based guidelines for improving patient matching with the $1.7 million grant provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Similar or identical patient names, typographical errors, missing information including middle name or date of birth, and identity theft are current obstacles to accurate patient identification.
Additionally, data changes affecting a patient’s demographic information can be cause for confusion. Properly matching a patient to her EHR becomes more challenging whenever a patient changes residency or legally alters her name.
Furthermore, varying formats used by different EHR systems during health data exchange can result in issues with patient health record identification.
“There is a great need for improved capabilities to accurately and efficiently identify and match individuals across health information systems,” said Regenstrief Institute President and CEO Peter J. Embi, MD. “Current approaches often fall short or take a lot of time and resources to overcome inherent challenges to doing this well.”
“This work by Dr. Grannis and his team will significantly improve patient care, outcomes and accelerate discovery across the health care and research enterprises,” he added.
With the clinical database and resources provided by INPC, Regenstrief researchers will assess newly developed patient matching algorithms and submit recommendations regarding ways to standardize and enhance the quality of patient health data used for identification.
INPC will also be used as the testing arena for potential new solutions.
The Regenstrief Institute intends to make all research and patient matching software developed over the course of the five-year project open-source and available to the public.
This project follows other efforts at the Regenstrief Institute to enable more efficient EHR use.
Earlier this year, Regenstrief collaborated with AMA to develop the EHR Clinical Learning Platform to promote EHR training among medical students.
The platform will be deployed at institutions across the country to improve EHR training in medical school curricula and familiarize students with the technology before entering the healthcare field.