The ONC Addresses Patient Addresses with New Specification
A new standard
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced Tuesday that it will develop a unified specification for a key element in patient matching – patient address. The announcement came during ONC’s API Year in Review virtual event as a new initiative to standardize how patient addresses are represented in the healthcare ecosystem. The new initiative, called Project US@, will formally launch in early 2021 and brings together the ONC, Health Level 7 (HL7), the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP), and X12 (along with the other standards development organizations (SDOs) and members of the Health Standards Collaborative (HSC)).
In a statement by the ONC, Deputy National Coordinator, Steve Posnack, said, “As mundane as address may seem it is often one of the key elements used for the purposes of patient matching and linking records.” He also stated, “The project’s goal is to issue a unified, cross-SDO, health care industry-wide specification for representing address within the year.”¹
Many in the healthcare industry have expressed the need for a unified standard around patient address, as the lack of specificity allowed implementers to decide on which format to use. “Without specific constraints to rely on, implementers use a variety of free and commercial third party tools, resources, and methods to help normalize address representations,” said Posnack. “But as we discussed in ONC’s Cures Act Final Rule it has its limits.”
What does this mean for SDOs and patient data stewards across the country?
As an SDO on the local and national level, UHIN is acutely aware of the need for standards to improve patient matching. UHIN’s new master patient index (MPI) has drastically improved patient matching accuracy for its clients, and the hope is that Project US@ will make patient matching even more accurate.
“With the shift to value-based care it is more crucial that data from different standards be joined to form a holistic view of the patient/member,” said Cody Johansen, Director of HIE at UHIN. “By standardizing address information across multiple SDOs this will both increase the reliability of the data used for matching as well as improve the matching rate across different data types.”
UHIN’s MPI improving patient identity matching
In 2020 UHIN implemented a powerful new patient identity matching solution. The new MPI has resulted in 7.3 Million records cleaned and 965k duplicates resolved.² A new case study with NextGate is available here.
A new Interoperability Platform to bridge standards
UHIN has a new interoperability platform in development called the Healthcare Platform. Our Healthcare Platform is being built for data-driven workflows, making healthcare analytics accessible and usable and acting as a bridge for all standards. To get updates on the Healthcare Platform visit https://uhin.org/healthcare-platform/.
¹ Posnack, Steve. “Say “Hey!” to Project US@ – a Unified Specification for Address in Health Care.” 1 Dec. 2020, https://www.healthit.gov/buzz-blog/health-it/say-hey-to-project-us-a-unified-specification-for-address-in-health-care
² “CASE STUDY: UHIN Leverages Leading Patient Identification Platform to Drive Quality and Coordination of Care, Support COVID-19 Response.” https://marketing.nextgate.com/acton/fs/blocks/showLandingPage/a/3826/p/p-004c/t/page/fm/0