How Colorado's largest HIE is matching patients with their records

Patient identity matching is a thorny issue: Stakeholders and decision-makers must hammer out a way to link patients to their health information while still taking security, privacy and equity into account.   

In Colorado, the largest health information exchange, CORHIO, has teamed up with state agencies to provide identity management services and address that need. By connecting the digital health record systems for a healthcare provider, CORHIO can ensure patients’ medical history is accessible to the professionals who need it, regardless of where a patient goes for care.  

“If you’re an HIE or like one … our job is to create that completely longitudinal record,” said CORHIO Health Information Exchange Enterprise Architect Ako Quammie. “Obviously, patient ID matching is a key function for us.”   

Quammie, who will be presenting at HIMSS21 about Colorado’s approach to identity matching, told Healthcare IT News that an effective approach to patient matching makes a difference on a variety of levels.  

“The ability to be able to track someone’s ID in terms of the services they’ve received is great, because you can, in some cases, know the clinical history of someone,” Quammie explained. “They may have an established record with historic information that is pertinent to their care.”  

By contrast, “because generally speaking there’s no unified ID service across most of their systems, it’s really hard for the state in terms of resources and for the individual,” Quammie said.  

He noted, for example, that if a person seeking care has to spend time filling out the same patient information forms repeatedly, that’s adding on to the burden they may already be shouldering when it comes to seeking care – such as taking the bus, coordinating childcare and other logistical challenges.  

Of course, from the state’s perspective, Quammie noted that time is also a valuable resource.   

“Let’s say you’re a state employee, and you put in all this documentation for a person seeking services, and then throughout the course of your work you realize there are two or more records for the person in the system,” he said. “Now there are multiple records in the system, and you have to put in a ticket to merge the records – which is a burden on the state’s ID system and too time-consuming.”  

Quammie encourages stakeholders to think of HIEs as partners in this endeavor.   

He notes, for example, that HIEs may have data points for race and ethnicity that may not be captured in some state systems. This, in turn, can allow for greater data enrichment for reporting purposes – in addition to the ability to recognize that a person is who they say they are.   

“What other entity has this level of information?” he said. HIEs, he noted, are “one of those things that are out of sight, out of mind. You don’t necessarily think about the pipe that information travels on.”  

“We are by nature the infrastructure. We facilitate the transfer,” he said. “You don’t think about us having this information about patients, but we do!”  

Ako Quammie, along with co-presenter Carrie Paykoc, will go into more detail at their HIMSS21 session, “What’s in a Name: Colorado’s Approach to Identity Matching.” It’s scheduled for 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 10, in Venetian – Murano 3204.


Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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