The importance and impact of patient matching

Dr. Sean Kelly
Oct 25, 2018

For decades, the healthcare industry has struggled with accurately linking a patient’s health data within and across health systems — an activity known as patient matching.

A new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts explores the impact of inaccurate patient matching, summarizes progress to date, and outlines key next steps and recommendations to improve matching. The report findings reflect commissioned research, patient focus groups, hospital executive interviews, and conversations with industry experts.

The report cites the following contributing factors in inadequate match rates:

  • Lack of standardization across health information technology systems
  • Typos (e.g. patient names and birthdates)
  • Missing information in patient records
  • Similar patient information (e.g., names and birthdates)
  • Patient information changes that lead to data mismatches across systems
  • Identity fraud (someone else’s information is used to obtain care)

The research posits that more accurate patient match rates have the potential to:

  • Improve patient care and satisfaction
  • Reduce healthcare costs for hospitals and patients
  • Better track patient outcomes and provide more accurate real-world evidence
  • Detect fraudulent use of patient information.

Pew conducted focus groups with patients about several potential solutions, and found that most participants overwhelmingly preferred the use of a unique identifier to improve patient matching. Moreover, 70 of 95 participants listed biometrics as their first preference, while nearly all ranked biometrics in their top two choices. Participants also said biometrics would be ideal during emergencies for identifying unconscious patients, and more accurate and secure than other approaches.

Imprivata has long recognized that inaccurate patient matching is rampant and negatively impacts patient care, privacy, and a hospital’s bottom line. But it doesn’t need to be that way, and we’ve worked to solve that for our customers.

Biometric solutions are user friendly and not as intrusive as standard patient identifiers, streamline the patient care delivery process, proactively eliminate duplicates, and improve patient privacy, safety, and care.

We applaud The Pew Charitable Trusts for their in-depth research and findings. We offer this report for your review and hope that it not only helps to highlight the problem of patient matching, but also helps you to recognize your options to address it.