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  • Writer's pictureJulie Barnes

December 3, 2020

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters on Health Information Policy

Maverick Health Policy hopes everyone had a wonderful holiday break and is handling the return to the madness well. A few exciting news bits to highlight this week:

One Thoughtful Paragraph

Maverick is going to suggest to the Google Doodle people (the illustrators who create an image out of the Google logo to celebrate holidays or famous people -- or people who should be famous) that they consider featuring a biomedical informaticist who may have solved the patient matching problem. It doesn’t sound as great as Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine, but matching the right patient to the right records could eliminate the possibility of millions of medical errors or just unnecessary care. As we have discussed here before, patient matching can be a horrible safety issue when Mary Smith visits various health care providers and her health care records are incorrectly linked together with a different Mary Smith. In fact, a College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) study in 2012 found that 1 in 5 hospital chief information officers admitted that patients had been harmed in the previous year due to mismatches. But our hero, Shaun Grannis of the Regenstrief Institute, discovered that standardizing home addresses was the most successful way to match patient records in a study supported by Pew Charitable Trusts. This is so important in the middle of a pandemic (when we are trying to report test results, distribute vaccines properly) that there is a bipartisan legislative proposal that would make the U.S. Postal Service address formatting tool available for health care providers. And on December 1, 2020, the HHS ONC announced it is developing a unified specification for address in health care -- a new initiative called Project US@. Dr. Grannis may have studied aerospace engineering in college, but we are all lucky he prefers health data over rocket ships.

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