Many Health IT Professionals Experience Patient Matching Issues

Most health IT management professionals routinely work on addressing problems with patient matching and duplicate patient records, according to a survey released Wednesday by the American Health Information Management Association, EHR Intelligence reports (Heath, EHR Intelligence, 1/6).

Survey Details

For the survey, AHIMA polled 815 members who used 12 different electronic health record systems to gauge members' experiences with patient matching related to linking patient records. The survey was conducted this past summer.  

According to AHIMA, accurate patient matching "underpins and enables the success of all strategic initiatives in health care," including:

  • Analytics;
  • Health information exchange;
  • Finance;
  • Patient-centric care; and
  • Population health.

Survey Findings

Among the health IT management professionals surveyed:

  • 57% reported working on possible duplicates regularly, with 73% saying they work on possible duplicate records at least once a week;
  • 55% said they are able to communicate the duplicate medical record rate within their organization, but less than half knew how the duplicate rate was calculated (Dooling et al., Journal of AHIMA, 1/6); and
  • About 47% reported having some form of quality assurance program in place to ensure duplicate records are not created.

In addition, respondents reported several issues when mitigating duplicate patient records, including:

  • Lack of executive support;
  • Lack of information governance policies;
  • Lack of resources;
  • Record matching terminology inconsistencies; and
  • Registration staff turnover.


The survey authors noted that health IT management professionals must develop solutions to patient matching issues to improve quality of care and patient-centric care models. One such option the authors recommended is the use of a National Patient Identifier, which would grant all physicians access to a patient's full health history, thereby eliminating:

  • Access to incorrect patient records; or
  • Duplicate patient records (EHR Intelligence, 1/6).

HIPAA, which was enacted in 1996, called on HHS to develop a system of unique patient identifiers.

However, Congress passed appropriations legislation for fiscal year 1999 that prohibited HHS from using federal funds to implement a national identifier system, citing privacy concerns. Language regarding the prohibition has been included in appropriation bills each year.

Several health care organizations, such as the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, have called on lawmakers to lift the congressional ban on the use of federal funds to develop such a system (iHealthBeat, 11/16/15).

Source: iHealthBeat, Thursday, January 7, 2016

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