Written by Jasmine, Summer Intern
Used across an organization to maintain consistent and accurate demographic and other essential data on the patients seen and managed within various departments, an enterprise-wide master patient index (EMPI) is a key method used to manage patient identity. In healthcare, a patient is assigned a unique identifier that is used to refer to this patient across the enterprise. The objective is to ensure that each patient is represented only once across all the software systems used within the organization.
Some of the essential patient data includes elements such as name, gender, date of birth, race and ethnicity, social security number, current address and contact information, and current diagnoses. EMPIs are intended to solve the common problem that appears when multiple systems are used across an organization. As information changes, whether updated or deleted, it gradually becomes inconsistent when multiple systems are being used but not uniformly updated. This can even be considered a similar problem for non-healthcare organizations with respect to customer data but for the purposes of this blog we will focus on healthcare organizations.
Great, there is a method that can be used to manage patient identity, why is it needed? What are the key benefits? Healthcare organizations or groups can implement this EMPI method to help identify, match, merge, de-duplicate, and cleanse patient records. With these records a master index can be created and used to attain a complete and single view of a patient. With this complete view, there are numerous benefits including:
- Providing better patient care
- Offering improved customer service
- Obtaining historical care related information from across organizations
In emergency or other critical care situations, medical staff can be more confident that they know medical conditions or other information that would be critical to providing proper care.
An EMPI is considered an important resource in a healthcare facility because it is the link that significantly improves the ability to track patients, persons, or member activities within an organization and across patient care settings. Could systems like Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER), Ambulatory Medical Record (AMR) or Electrical Medical Record (EMR) really do what they were envisioned to do without an EMPI? Would Electrical Health Records (EHR) be a debate topic if there was no focus on managing patient identity? Take time to really think about it and if information is being tracked for the wrong person or not updated then what would be the point. Thus the key question as to why this topic is so important is answered. We need EMPIs to help leverage Master Data Management and Identity Data Management practices so patient identity is better managed.