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Sep 23 2015   1:07PM GMT

Patient safety and cloud-based MDM: A healthcare innovation

Posted by: adelvecchio
master data management, master patient index, MPI

Michael Morton - 5x7 @300dpi headshotGuest post by Michael Morton, CTO at Dell Boomi

Several healthcare issues are competing for attention, including the furor over how it is paid for; the increasing concern over patient privacy; fears related to the spread of specific diseases such as Ebola, MERS, and H7N9 bird flu; and the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. With all this to consider, it’s easy to overlook a growing challenge that may be putting patients at risk every time they register at a new healthcare facility.

When a physician sends a patient to a specialist for treatment, the patient generally takes it for granted that they’ll receive the right tests and treatments for their ailment. After all, anything else could be catastrophic. But what if that patient has the same first name, last name and birthdate as several other members in their healthcare organization? Not likely, you say? In 2011, the Harris County Texas Hospital District database listed the medical records of nearly 2,500 people named Maria Garcia, 231 of them had the same birth date. In total, 69,807 people in that district shared a first and last name and date of birth. This can cause not only confusion; it’s an opportunity for improper care and treatment.

Many healthcare organizations rely on a combination of a healthcare-specific master patient index (MPI) and master data management (MDM) systems to cleanse their records and eliminate duplicates and errors. An MPI is a unique identifier, such as a medical record number, assigned to each patient. MDM technology, typically implemented as a software program and a set of processes (data stewardship), is commonly employed at healthcare organizations to maintain a single “golden” record across their various software systems, such as customer relationship management, enterprise resource management and human resources. Until recently, MDM was a limited, on-premises solution that lived behind the corporate — or healthcare organization –firewall. Such systems struggle in hybrid IT environments and including cloud-based data requires a complex, expensive and time-consuming development effort.

But as patient care increasingly takes place across multiple healthcare organizations without a single, standardized MPI system — and as the amount of data that each organization accumulates continues to skyrocket — reliance on disparate MPIs and on-premises MDM to manage the records simply isn’t sustainable. As it stands, according to a report published by the Bipartisan Policy Center, the patient matching error rate stands at 8% and can range up to 20%. And according to the Health IT Buzz Blog, published by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, an office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “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.”

Enter cloud-based MDM, which enables master data management to take place beyond the firewall, connecting any combination of on-premises and cloud-based data sources, including third party suppliers such as Hoover’s Inc. and Dun & Bradstreet, Inc., to establish and maintain golden records across multiple systems in near-real time. With cloud-based MDM and proper data stewardship — even in the absence of a national MPI — healthcare organizations have the potential to pull data from a vast number of sources, including other healthcare organizations and commercial vendors, to help ensure they properly identify each patient.

No one should have to suffer from a misdiagnosis or the wrong treatment simply because a healthcare organization hasn’t accurately identified the patient. Yet this problem will persist until we can break down the silos surrounding MPI, ensure a single, golden record for each patient, and share this information across the nation in real or near-real time. Cloud-based MDM is the most practical, most cost-effective and least disruptive way to accomplish this in the short term.

About the Author:
Michael Morton is the chief technology officer of Dell Boomi, where he is responsible for product innovation.

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