Much to our chagrin, we continue to feel the need to write about patient matching as we move through 2020.It felt like we had other, more pressing things going on this year that would require our attention.
The most pressing thing we envisioned for this year was the implementation of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) Final Rule. That issue is still out there but 2020 continues to go its own way!
COVID-19 has revealed several areas where standards-based meaningful interoperability should be viewed as "essential business" (to use a currently popular phrase). Not least is in the realm of patient matching (or the idea of a national patient ID).
Consider how many people who found themselves sick away from home … away from their primary care physician and/or primary-care team. A solid patient ID system wouldn't cure all of interoperability's woes but I can't help but believe that caregivers being able to find and use whatever information is available online would be provide meaningful insight.
And yet the healthcare IT community continues to struggle with the adoption of a system that, for example (and one I've cited repeatedly), the financial-services industry overcame and adopted years ago.
Nearly 40% of the respondents in a recent NextGate survey said they had experienced an adverse event in the last two years due to patient-matching issues. Forty percent is a lot closer to half than none.
Can you imagine banks – or bank customers, for that matter – being OK with that level of "adverse events" (e.g., losing money, giving money to other customers, etc.)? I cannot; nor can you.
What's even more disconcerting than the identified adverse events – and to be clear, those are plenty disconcerting – is the amount of resources (time, personnel, money, resources) healthcare providers dedicate to working around the issue.
I really hope that the COVID-19 situation helps push the patient-ID issue to a point where I really don't have to write about it again.