Standardized Data Practices and Biometrics Can Solve Health Records Challenges

‘The goal is to improve interoperability so doctors will have safe access to any patient’s medical records – even if those records are stored in another clinic…’

Standardized Data Practices and Biometrics Can Solve Health Records Challenges

NextGate has weighed in on the subject of patient matching in two separate letters sent to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). In the letters, the health records company pushed for a “bottoms-up” approach that integrates multiple records systems rather than a single unified patient database.

The goal is to improve interoperability so doctors will have safe access to any patient’s medical records – even if those records are stored in another clinic. To that end, NextGate is advocating for the use of an enterprise master patient index (like the one it currently offers), with a greater emphasis on oversight of data collection at the grassroots level.

Specifically, NextGate would like the CMS and the ONC to standardize the information that clinics gather from patients, as well as the methods used to collect it. In advocating for this approach, the company is hoping to eliminate the need for a mandatory public database. If every clinic and healthcare company records the same information, it should be easy to cross-reference those records against another database for fast and convenient patient matching.

According to NextGate, phone numbers, addresses, and birthdates are particularly useful pieces of information, while credit card numbers and other financial identifiers carry more risks than rewards. It also suggested that healthcare organizations should be open to the possibility of biometric authentication, especially as mobile devices introduce more reliable sensors.