National Patient Data Matching Strategy: Launch of the Algorithm Challenge

The announcement this week that ONC will be launching a Patient Matching Algorithm Challenge is the next big step in the health IT community’s work to ensure patient safety through advancements in interoperability.  

As a community, we have been working on the patient data matching issue for many years.  HIMSS has worked very closely with our friends across the healthcare community to understand the barriers to the accurate, efficient matching of patients to their health information.  Beginning with the work of our Privacy and Security Committee’s Patient Identity Integrity Work Group, we published a policy paper that outlined the “critical business processes” that need to be in place to ensure the accuracy and integrity of patient data.  Subsequent action culminated in the creation of the HIMSS Innovator in Residence at HHS, which we now know is our very own Adam Culbertson.

The Patient Matching Algorithm Challenge announcement by ONC’s Steve Posnack with Adam, is the culmination of over two years of great work by Adam to advance the technical aspects of a national patient data matching strategy.  Throughout the past two years, a recurring theme has emerged that we need clarity and transparency around data algorithms.  The glaring unknown for providers, patients, caregivers, and indeed all of us is whether current algorithms are accurate enough to identify individuals correctly.  The Algorithm Challenge comes at a perfect time for health IT as we look to improve the level of certainty on patient matching.  As designed, the Challenge will help algorithm developers test against a common dataset to allow for near real-time learning and improvement. When the Algorithm Challenge is complete, we will all be winners as interoperability, patient matching, and information sharing will all improve.   

Now that we have taken the next big step on the journey to a national patient data matching strategy, we need you to reach out to organizations to join the Patient Matching Algorithm Challenge.  ONC is hosting a series of webinars this month, so spread the word!

Let’s work together and make sure we can reach our goal of the right information about the right patient getting to the right provider at the right time!