AHIMA and ONC Release Companion Guide for New Technical Specification

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) (@AHIMAResources) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released a companion guide to accompany ONC’s Project US@ (‘Project USA’) Technical Specification Final Version 1.0. The companion guide offers unified, cross-standards development organization, health care industry-wide operational best practices related to accurate and timely capture and management of patient addresses developed in Project US@ Technical Specification Final Version 1.0. It can be used by health information and healthcare professionals to enhance patient identification and matching.

Correctly matching patients to their accurate health data is critical, but according to the Patient ID Now coalition, a lack of widespread operational principles as well as limitations in processes and technologies result in inaccurate patient identification, putting patients and providers at risk.

Lauren Riplinger, AHIMA’s vice president of policy and government affairs, said the Project US@ Companion Guide is vital because its operational best practices will help health information professionals improve patient identification and matching, which is the goal of the technical specification. Riplinger added that AHIMA is honored ONC chose to collaborate with the association.

“AHIMA brings deep knowledge and expertise in patient identity management and record matching. Their real-world experience advancing best practices for health information professionals and passion for patient identity integrity made collaborating with them ideal for Project US@,” ONC’s Carmen Smiley said. “This resulted in an innovative approach to improved patient matching, setting a precedent for bringing together technical and operational experts working to achieve the same goal.”

Riplinger said healthcare organizations should review the Project US@ Companion Guide now so they can begin implementing the technical specification.

“I encourage health information professionals to be proactive and begin preparing for implementation of the technical specification, even if they haven’t received updates from the EHR vendor their organization works with,” Riplinger said.

In a press release about the technical specification, ONC said it “encourages state and federal agencies, public health organizations, payers, health IT developers, research organizations, healthcare providers, and all other interested stakeholders to consider adopting and implementing the final specification.”

To learn more about patient matching, visit the Patient ID Now coalition’s website. AHIMA is a founding member of the coalition, which is committed to advancing through legislation and regulations a nationwide strategy to address patient identification. AHIMA also recently released a revised version of its patient naming policy and has published a policy statement on patient identification.

AHIMA is a global nonprofit association of health information (HI) professionals. AHIMA represents professionals who work with health data for more than one billion patient visits each year. AHIMA’s mission of empowering people to impact health drives our members and credentialed HI professionals to ensure that health information is accurate, complete, and available to patients and providers. Our leaders work at the intersection of healthcare, technology, and business, and are found in data integrity and information privacy job functions worldwide.