GAO Report Details Challenges to Accurately Match Shared Patient Records

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The Government Accountability Office released a new report detailing the growing challenges in electronically sharing and matching patient records. In interviews with healthcare experts, providers and other stakeholders, accurately matching patient health records represents “a barrier to health information exchange,” GAO said in the report published Tuesday.

“Records don’t always contain correct information and that health information technology systems and providers use different formats for key information such as names that contain hyphens,” the report stated. 

The respondents suggested the government improve how it manages data and the methods used to match health information. For consistency on electronic health records, they said healthcare providers should also implement common standards for recording demographic data, share best practices, other resources and launch a public-private collaboration to improve matching. 

GAO interviewed representatives from physician practices, hospitals, health systems, health information exchange organizations as well as health IT vendors and researchers for the report. The agency also reviewed reports from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and other sources about patient record matching. ONC leads the coordination of nationwide efforts of the government to implement and use health IT.

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