Recently, I had the privilege of participating as a guest speaker in a podcast with Dr. John Halamka, president of Mayo Clinic Platform. Dr. Halamka is also co-chair of the AMA COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition. We discussed current healthcare industry priorities in HealthSystemCIO’s quarterly HIT update podcast, including distribution challenges of the COVID-19 vaccine and the emerging importance of moving forward with CMS’ Interoperability and Patient Access final rule.
Trained in emergency medicine and medical informatics, Dr. Halamka has been developing and implementing healthcare information strategy and policy for more than 25 years. He specializes in the adoption of electronic health records (EHR) and the secure sharing of healthcare data for care coordination, population health, and quality improvement.
A Year Later Perspective – The Silver Lining
It’s been a year since COVID-19 upended our world and the healthcare industry. But, as Dr. Halamka points out, there has been a silver lining: “Most notably the increased adoption (and acceptance) of digital health: The industry’s response to COVID-19 has exposed a significant gap when it comes to situational awareness, and it’s not just about COVID.”
“Consider the outages affecting Texas and other areas which also demonstrated the need to reimagine how technology can be leveraged to navigate a crisis. As a society, we need to start thinking about how we can respond to events better,” he commented.
Interoperability and Patient Access
The policy piece and being informed on CMS’ Interoperability and Patient Access final rule is critical to achieving that vision. The technology has been available in the EHR, but some providers aren’t quite ready to implement some of the workflow processes in data flows.
The information blocking component is scheduled to take effect on April 5, 2021. It’s been pushed back twice, but Dr. Halamka expects this date to stick. “Let’s not defer the information blocking rule any further,” he noted. “It would send a very bad sign, especially during a pandemic, when we need more information for more purposes.”
The Emerging Importance of Identity Management
As we return to work and life, having transportable credentials will be important. Halamka notes that in the next 60 days, we’ll likely see products emerge that will support these standards and help us get to a post-COVID new normal.
Both the successful execution of information blocking and the immediate need to support COVID vaccination delivery and credentials will create new demands on hospitals around patient identity, demands more stringent than anything to date.
Legacy Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI) approaches to master hospital identity data will be insufficient. Now there is information blocking liability associated with failing to gather all the data about a person, and increased frequency of data access leads to increased liability of inadvertent disclosure when a patient’s data is mistakenly combined. In addition, the existing systems are not up to the new task of accurately tracking the second vaccination against a population with constant changes and mistakes in the name and address identity fields.
When the Data Isn’t Good Enough
The problem is this: an EMPI or Master Data Management (MDM) system can only master the identity data it holds. Until now, using probabilistic matching against that data was good enough. But new information blocking and COVID use cases, along with the general trend of consumerism, require the use of referential data.
LexisNexis Risk Solutions and other vendors have datasets that can include extensive address histories, name variations, phone numbers, email addresses, etc. for all your patients. We do not need to use probabilistic matching, as we have matching capabilities to know the answer. Our matching model for patient identity resolves mismatched and duplicate records, as well as data errors due to keyboard entry or data changes over time such as name or address changes. But the best news is that this new capability can be plugged into existing EMPI/MDM systems, leveraging your existing investment and workflows.
Another critical identity need is (user) authentication. LexisNexis Risk Solutions ensures that patients are who they say they are. With our industry-hardened authentication solution widely used in banking and finance, and now offered for healthcare, we are able to ensure the physical and digital identity of a person through identity proofing and device authentication: an important progression in single-step identity providers and the two-factor methods now in place for healthcare data security.
As all forms of data across the healthcare space continue to move toward digitization, find out how we can help you accurately link patient records and improve your patient access and interoperability goals with LexID for Healthcare.
Read the article: “’You Have to Get It Right’: Technology’s Key Role in Responding to Crises”