National Patient Data Matching Strategy: Algorithm Challenge

Thomas M Leary | HIMSS | May 8, 2017

The announcement last week that ONC will be launching a Patient Matching Algorithm Challenge is the next big step in the health IT community’s efforts to ensure patient safety through advancements in interoperability. As a community, we’ve been working on the patient data matching issue for many years.  HIMSS has worked very closely with our friends across the healthcare community to understand the barriers to accurate, efficient matching of patients to their health information.

Beginning with the work of our Privacy and Security Committee’s Patient Identity Integrity Workgroup,  we published a policy paper that outlined the required “critical business processes”  to ensure the accuracy and integrity of patient data.  Subsequent action culminated in the creation of the HIMSS Innovator in Residence at HHS, which we now know is our very own Adam Culbertson.

The Patient Matching Algorithm Challenge announcement, by ONC’s Steve Posnack with Adam, is the culmination of over two years of important and effective work by Adam to advance the technical aspects of a national patient data matching strategy. Throughout the past two years, a recurring theme has emerged: we need clarity and transparency around data algorithms. The glaring unknown for providers, patients, caregivers, and indeed all of us, is whether current algorithms are accurate enough to identify individuals correctly...