More than a year ago, the National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM) offered recommendations recorded in the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology’s 2014 Patient Identification and Matching Final Report. (To access, go to bit.ly/1lEL89E.)
Pointing to a standardization of data attributes and their capture in electronic systems, the report says: “NAHAM supports continuing efforts to create an environment of positive patient identity and believes that the standardization of patient identification protocols and technologies are important means to this goal. NAHAM is investigating appropriate third factors to enhance positive patient identification. NAHAM supports the development of standards for data attributes in electronic systems, whether clinical or administrative, and enhanced common capabilities for all health data systems to input standardized data. …”
This reference to “appropriate third factors” is a call on providers to go beyond The Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goal that at least two patient identifiers be used. While this requirement speaks primarily to the clinical setting, it is a benchmark for patient access as well, NAHAM says. NAHAM’s recommendation calls for additional patient identifiers, ideally standardized in combination and means of collection, so that all healthcare systems are tracking the same data in the same manner, using the same recording protocols.
NAHAM’s recommendations also included a call for standardized electronic health record (EHR) technology solutions that would support the standardized patient identification attributes: “Ongoing education and training are also important to ensure personnel at all levels understand the important roles patient data input and patient identification protocols serve in enhancing patient safety. NAHAM supports Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements to improve patient matching and supports a comprehensive approach that includes the standardization of patient identification attributes, the development of standards for EHR technology solutions, and the development of best practices and protocols for data input. This would include regular feedback from supervisors and audits for quality control.”
The same report recommended the following data attributes: first name, last name, previous last name, middle name or middle initial, suffix, date of birth, current address, historical addresses, current phone number, historical phone numbers, and gender.
Results of an informal NAHAM survey presented at the Patient Identity Integrity Symposium held before the Annual Educational Conference and Exposition showed that more than 80% of respond-
ents collect the following information: name (first and last), home phone number, work phone number, date of birth, gender, next of kin, next of kin relationship, guarantor phone number, primary physician, insurance information, medical record number, and billing address.