The Fundamental Importance of Identity Matching

A Chat With Andy Aroditis, CEO and Co-Founder, NextGate

NextGate offers the leading Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI), as well as Provider and Organization Registry, XDS Registry and Repository, and Event Relation Registry to correlate all data.

Q: You’ve been focused on patient identity management for a long time. Why?

A: Yes, it is an exceptionally important topic for me and one I have had bad experiences with in the past. It’s personal, and that’s why I am so focused on it and have built a solution for it. Health care is complex, and when you’re receiving care, you want to have total confidence that everybody treating you knows who you are and that they have the right information about you. We hear tragic stories about misidentification all the time, and it’s a leading cause of errors. And what makes it worse is that it’s totally preventable. We know how to fix this problem, today!

Q: How has the move toward EHRs and single vendor platforms affected patient identity?

A: A lot of money and time has been spent on these systems, and I think people want to believe that their major investment works completely. However, as we’ve seen, there are still challenges when it comes to patient records and interoperability. The registration process continues to be a major source of duplicate records, and there’ll always be other application systems that collect patient info in their own way and need to exchange this information. The matching algorithms inherent in these systems are just not adequate for enterprise identity management, and that’s why we have a lot of customers that use our technology to supplement their EHRs.

Q: Speaking of registration, I hear you offer facial recognition capabilities now.

A: Yes, we’ve added the ability to use a person’s picture as a key to locate their record. This streamlines the registration process and makes it so much more accurate, enabling self-registration from kiosks or mobile devices. Using commercially available cameras, like those on a tablet or smart phone, we capture the image and compare it to existing images in the database. Our software uses neural network technology and machine learning to improve match accuracy. And it’s vendor neutral, so it’ll work in anyone’s environment.

Q: Interoperability is a major topic, especially with all the data sharing going on with HIEs, ACOs, RHIOs. How do they keep information correlated to the same person?

A: Interoperability has come a long way in helping data exchange, but it still relies on a solid understanding of the patient or provider identity. The content and purpose of the transaction is too important for uncertainty. Matching algorithms give us confidence that the transactions refer to the same person. In fact, patient and provider identity matching are pillars supporting interoperability’s success.

Q: Wouldn’t a National Patient Identifier suffice?

A: It’s a nice idea, but other countries have tried it before with debatable success, and it would take years to implement. Today, there is already a totally viable solution. In the U.S. alone, our EMPI is managing over 200 million unique patient identifiers. We know how to do this. Learn more online at or call 626-376-4100. Be sure to stop by Booth #4003 for more information.

*This Q&A was originally published (pages 24 and 43) in the 1st Edition 02/20/2017 issue of Healthcare Management and Technology Today.