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Healthcare industry faces challenges with patient data quality

Rachel Wheeler Archive
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for health IT (ONC) recently announced that more than 100,000 healthcare providers have implemented electronic health records (EHR) systems. This far outpaces their goal of reaching 100,000 adopters by the end of 2012.

The high adoption rate is good news for the Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs, but it presents new challenges for the healthcare industry in terms of maintaining patient data quality, according to a recent brief from the Bipartisan Policy Center. The report explains that hospitals and practices face issues such as reducing errors rates that average around 8 percent and ensuring health records are properly matched to the correct patients.

While this may not seem like a common problem, Fierce Health IT cites Harris County, Texas, where at least 2,488 patients have the same name - Maria Garcia - and more than 200 of these individuals share a birth date. These commonalities place a burden on healthcare facilities that must rely on the systems to sort the data and match patients with the correct files.

"Across the country, hospitals and physicians, as well as state- and community-based health information exchange initiatives, are struggling with the lack of national standards and policies for improving the accuracy and reducing the burden of matching patient data," said Janet Marchibroda, chair of BPC's Health IT Initiative.