NextGate Responds to Requests for Information by CMS and ONC on Strategies to Improve Patient Matching

Leading patient identification solutions provider underscores use of standards, proven technology and data governance as most promising path towards advancing patient matching efforts on a national scale

PASADENA, Calif., May 23, 2019 – NextGate, the global leader in enterprise patient identification, today submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) in response to coordinated requests for information on patient matching as part of the proposed rules to promote interoperability.

In a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, NextGate applauded the agency for engaging the private sector for input related to patient matching strategies. Echoing the agency’s assessment that a single uniform patient identifier is neither necessary or sufficient to achieve needed patient matching levels, NextGate pointed to a combination of standards for recording demographic data elements; use of an enterprise master patient index (EMPI), augmented with other technologies, to overcome the integration challenges of disparate systems; and a robust organizational data governance program to improve data integrity at the point of capture, as the most promising path towards advancing patient matching efforts.

“Rather than a centralized patient identity matching strategy, we favor a ‘bottoms-up’ approach that builds on the activities of healthcare organizations and communities to implement an EMPI-based strategy that integrates disparate systems and that emphasizes the need for continual increases in the quality of the underlying data used for matches,” the letter stated.

For over two decades, NextGate has been helping healthcare organizations around the world overcome the clinical, operational and financial challenges that result from duplicate records and disparate systems. Its flagship EMPI solution currently manages patient identities for more than two-thirds of the U.S. population and one-third of the populations in the U.K. and Australia.

A firm believer that accurate patient identification is a prerequisite for interoperability, NextGate addressed several key areas for advancing nationwide matching efforts, including:

  • Deterrence of a mandated patient matching algorithm. Instead, CMS should consider requirements related to integration and use patient matching-relevant IHE standards, including PIX and PDQ.
  • Discouragement of a specific patient matching software solution imposed by CMS. NextGate recommends a defined and mandated set of patient matching-relevant data elements, such as those contained in the ONC 2015 edition certification criteria.
  • Advancement of standardized data elements for the purpose of matching. Standards that facilitate the consistent capture of demographic information such as address and phone number are most effective. In NextGate’s twenty-year history matching records, a high-quality address, coupled with one’s birthday, is very powerful for accurate algorithm-based patient matching. The addition of an accurate phone number provides an even higher match rate.
  • Cautionary use of third-party reference data, including credit or financial information, that does not support matching efforts for minors or immigrants.
  • Inclusion of patient-generated data via personal mobile devices, particularly with biometric identification capabilities, should be considered as part of a longer-term strategy for enhanced patient matching.

In a separate letter to National Coordinator for Health IT Donald Rucker, M.D., NextGate praised ONC’s efforts to better understand the patient matching landscape and aid in standards and technical development.

NextGate urged ONC to look beyond EHR-only requirements for collecting accurate and consistent data elements for matching, stating that the core identity of an individual should not be in the control of any single system, but rather externalized from insulated applications.

“Because EHRs are not always the mechanism by which enterprises manage identity, EHR-focused solutions are unlikely to be optimal,” the letter stated.

Additionally, NextGate called for industry naming conventions to manage such scenarios as Jane Doe’s and newborns; federal policies to encourage provider and IT developer adoption of data capture standards; and use of specific technology to verify and validate patient addresses.

“NextGate appreciates ONC’s efforts in improving patient matching as a fundamental component to interoperability and patient safety and is grateful for the opportunity to provide our comments,” the letter read. “We have invested more than twenty years in enhancing patient matching accuracy and applaud ONC for advocating a broad, public-private stakeholder approach. Safe, cost-effective, high-quality care hinges on the ability to correctly match patients across settings and establish positive patient identification at every encounter. We look forward to continuing the dialog and serving as a resource for the administration going forward.”

The full text of NextGate’s letter to CMS can be found here. To read NextGate’s comments to ONC, click here.

About NextGate
With over 200 customers in four countries, NextGate is the global leader in healthcare enterprise identification. Committed to helping organizations overcome the clinical, operational and financial challenges that result from duplicate records and disparate data, our full suite of identity matching solutions connects the entire healthcare ecosystem to drive critical improvements in quality, efficiency and safety. NextGate’s market-leading EMPI currently manages 300 million lives and is deployed by the nation’s most successful healthcare systems and health information exchanges. For more information, visit

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Media Contact:
Stephanie Fraser
Director of Communications and Media Relations, NextGate
c: 734-233-1483 | o: 734-399-9336

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