mation can legally occur among providers absent explicit
consent. Additionally, patient data collected for matching
and identification purposes should not be shared with
third parties for non-treatment purposes without their
authorization. For example, some patients may want their
medical data merged with grocery store purchases to better characterize their overall health, while others may not.
Value to Stakeholders
While implementing a nationwide strategy to improve patient
matching can improve care quality and reduce costs, it may
also introduce additional risks and costs. Some things to keep
in mind include:
Return on investment: The benefits accrued by organizations and patients must exceed the risks, especially for organizations that bear the greatest implementation costs.
Both market forces and government policies can create
those benefits—such as through cost reductions from
duplicate records, higher care quality, the ability to participate more effectively in data exchange networks, and
other potential drivers.
Benefits accrue early: The full benefits may not accrue
until a critical mass of facilities participates. Organiza-
tions that consider investing early may question whether
other organizations will also implement a nationwide
strategy. A nationwide strategy should enable early
adopters to realize improvements immediately to en-
Legal safeguards: Improved patient matching may also
expose healthcare organizations to increased liability if
data are illegally accessed or unintentionally disclosed.
These consequences may occur even when organizations follow best practices and standards and comply
with regulations. Legal protections—such as safe harbors—may be needed to shield healthcare providers,
technology developers, and other organizations who act
in good faith.
Barriers and Recommended Next Steps
A successful nationwide strategy for improved patient matching faces multiple barriers and requires collaboration among
the public and private sectors.
First, no single organization currently has the responsibility
to improve matching on a nationwide scale. Healthcare providers and technology developers should agree on the need for
a trusted entity to develop a common infrastructure, establish
governance policies, identify a business model, and commit
to following the standards and guidance provided by this or-
Advancing a Nationwide
Patient Matching Strategy