Patient matching findings released

Today, we released findings on the current state of patient matching systems and programs as a part of ONC’s Patient Matching Initiative.

The findings are the result of a collaborative initiative developed to describe common data attributes, processes, and best practices currently in use among private sector health care delivery systems and federal agencies in an effort to improve patient matching across disparate systems.

Patient matching processes are already being used to improve patient safety and clinical care across disparate health systems and to address continuity of care among patients who receive care from more than one provider.  Patients often have medical records in multiple locations including hospitals, physician practices, laboratories, pharmacies and other settings. One of the largest unresolved issues in the safe and secure electronic exchange of health information is the need for a nationwide patient data matching strategy ensuring the accurate, timely, and efficient matching of patients with their healthcare data across different systems and settings of care.

Based on an environmental scan, a literature review, feedback received at public stakeholder meetings, collaboration with federal partner agencies and written comments received, the “Patient Matching Current State report” describes the following findings:

  1. Standardized patient identifying attributes should be required in the relevant exchange transactions.
  2. Any changes to patient data attributes in exchange transactions should be coordinated with organizations working on parallel efforts to standardize healthcare transactions.
  3. Certification criteria should be introduced that require certified EHR technology (CEHRT) to capture the data attributes that would be required in the standardized patient identifying attributes.
  4. The ability of additional, non-traditional data attributes to improve patient matching should be studied.
  5. Certification criteria should not be created for patient matching algorithms or require organizations to utilize a specific type of algorithm.
  6. Certification criteria that requires CEHRT to perform patient matching demonstrates the ability to generate and provide to end users reports that detail potential duplicate patient records should be considered.
  7. Build on the initial best practices that emerged during the environmental scan by convening industry stakeholders to consider a more formal structure for establishing best practices for the matching process and data governance.
  8. Work with the industry to develop best practices and policies to encourage consumers to keep their information current and accurate.
  9. Work with healthcare professional associations and the ONC Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience (SAFER) Guide initiative to develop and disseminate educational and training materials detailing best practices for accurately capturing and consistently verifying patient data attributes.
  10. Continue collaborating with federal agencies and the industry on improving patient identification and matching processes.

The findings included in the report, conducted by Audacious Inquiry, will help to form continuing discussions within ONC and with ONC’s Health IT Policy and Standards Committees.

Read the full Patient Matching Current State report [PDF – 2.9 MB].


  1. Terry Bequette says:

    This is very interesting information. Unfortunately the link to the PDF does not work.


  2. Dr. Michael Bolten says:

    It’s nice to read about what other people are doing in the medical field. To have a system like this across the country would relieve a lot of time and making sure patient information matches up and cut back on the paper work and red tape.

  3. Lisa Gallagher says:

    On behalf of HIMSS, the HIMSS Patient Identity Work Group and the healthcare industry, I would like to thank ONC for their responsiveness to industry needs around patient matching. ONC ctively aengaged stakeholders through listening sessions and other input, gatheirng industry concerns and needs, executed an extensive environmental scan and provided a report that will benefit all organizations working on this challenge. Lee Stevens and his team are to be commended as is the entire leadership team at ONC for the results of this project. We look forward to continuing work in this area with ONC, our members and the entire industry.

  4. Chandresh J. Shah says:

    I like this blog very much for the simple reason that once data is readily available, tremendous amount of time and money can be saved. I think the most important element is item number 3 in your blog.
    3. Certification criteria should be introduced that require certified EHR technology (CEHRT) to capture the data attributes that would be required in the standardized patient identifying attributes

    Capturing the right data at point of care is the foundation.

    Thank you again.

  5. Tarun Theogaraj says:

    Really interesting report!

    From what I’ve seen, it seems like the biggest problems are the lack of a standard test data set, and the difficulty in measuring false positive rates during testing – does anybody know of any approaches to address these problems?

Leave a Reply to ONC Blog TeamComment Policy