Erin Benson

Posted on: June 14, 2019

As the Office of National Coordinator, Health and Human Services and other government entities try to solve the interoperability and data sharing challenge, even among themselves, providers are still floundering. They are wondering which way to turn and which technologies and data sources will have the most impact on patient engagement and cost.

Europe is ahead of the game. This week they released the Whole Systems Integrated Care Dashboards and Care Information Exchange Sharing system.This system is a suite of digital tools to help clinicians better share information and coordinate care in real-time. Access to community programs can also be included. The goal was to help improve patient safety, reduce duplication as well as impact outcomes.

Data Roadblocks

Many data challenges start with simple patient contact information, which can be used to match records as well as to engage the patient. In the absence of a universal patient identifier, you need to have accurate demographic data on the individual to match their records together and create one golden record for each patient. You also have to find the patient before you can connect them with the care they need. While technology is making data exchange efforts and cleansing more streamlined and scalable, the simple challenge of patient identity data integrity persists.

So why does a patient’s identity present such a widespread challenge? And who does it fall to? The patient? The provider? The payer?

Provider organizations rely on this patient identity intelligence data for discharge planning, preventing readmissions, physician-patient communication, patient record matching and even encouraging preventative screenings.

What should come first: outreach or outcomes?

I would argue one can’t exist without the other. Many healthcare organizations are currently operating with surprisingly inaccurate or incomplete patient data. The problem with data quality goes beyond data entry errors. Patient data erodes at an estimated rate of 3% per month.

It’s in a continual state of flux as individuals change jobs, phones, addresses and even their names (marriages and divorces). The process to keep records current is both cumbersome and a drain on resources. The simple fact is the quality of data impacts the quality of results.

Enhancing Patient Outreach to Improve Outcomes

You can’t improve outcomes without outreach. For outreach, until the national patient identifier is socialized and agreed upon, patient record clean-up will fall to overtaxed IT and HIM teams. This is a problem that becomes even more complex and costly with mergers and acquisitions. Until that time, providers should consider a data and analytics partner that can solve for these challenges. Using referential data and sophisticated linking capabilities to match records, accurate contact data on your patients and clinically validated social determinants of health insights, will paint the whole picture of the patient. The result will be improved interoperability of systems with clean records, better patient engagement and outreach for coordination of care. Ultimately the quality of care and outcomes can improve.

Want to learn more about how to improve your patient contact data and influence outcomes? Read our white paper.

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