GAO Releases Report on Challenges to Electronically Matching Patients’ Records Across Providers

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report required by the 21st Century Cures Act detailing the challenges to electronically matching patients’ records across providers. Health care providers are increasingly sharing patients’ health records electronically. The GAO and others have reported that accurately matching patient health records is a barrier to health information exchange and that inaccurately matched records can adversely affect patient safety or privacy.

For this report, the GAO interviewed representatives from physician practices and hospitals who described their approaches for matching patients’ records. Record matching can be done manually or automatically. The GAO found that that inaccurate, incomplete or inconsistently formatted demographic information in patients’ records can pose challenges to accurate matching.

Interviewees identified multiple methods to address these challenges including implementing common standards for recording demographic data; sharing best practices and other resources; and developing a public-private collaboration effort could each improve matching. The role of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) was also considered. Some said that ONC could require demographic data standards as part of its responsibility for certifying electronic health record systems, while other stakeholders said that ONC could facilitate the voluntary adoption of such standards.

The full report is available here.

The highlights page is available here.


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