Reliable patient identification as the cornerstone of the networked platform

RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG is expediting the digitalization of its facilities. The key element in this process is ICW’s Master Patient Index, which facilitates reliable matching of patient data and effective data clearing.

As a healthcare service provider with a presence throughout Germany, RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG (RKA) makes efficient patient care its top priority. This is why the entire organization focuses on networked collaborative provision of medical services. RKA hopes to use the concept of networked medicine to guide patients in its medical partner organizations to the best possible care. This requires IT support along the entire process chain of patient treatment. The key factors include availability of patient data at every treatment location, decision support in treatment environments, and effective communication between treating entities. In order to realize its vision of networked medicine, RHÖN-KLINIKUM AG developed WebEPA+, a physician-guided, cross-enterprise networked electronic record.

A standardized overview of a patient’s complete medical history is a must for efficient cross-enterprise collaboration. Any exchange of treatment-relevant information between different facilities and healthcare providers presupposes reliable and unique identification of the patient. Since the current and future stakeholders may all have very different IT systems, it is absolutely essential to have a powerful master patient index.

ICW’s Master Patient Index (MPI), the cornerstone of WebEPA+, ensures unique patient identification for data exchange via the networked platform. New patient master data transferred into the MPI is compared to existing entries. Using probabilistic algorithms, the MPI also recognizes links between the patient data from different facilities, even if those records contain discrepancies, such as different addresses. This is achieved via a multistage process that first standardizes the data, then compares it using various functions, and finally calculates the degree of similarity between the patient master data. Depending on how the threshold values are configured, in the great majority of cases the MPI will automatically decide whether there is a match, or else whether a new patient identity (a “golden record”) should be created. One great advantage of ICW’s Master Patient Index is that it can be adapted to the data quality of the different institutions, and can thus take individual features into account in the matching process.

The MPI provides an intuitive user interface for patient master data that cannot be matched automatically. It also provides data protection-compliant segmentation of patient data, which makes it possible to employ facility-specific clearing processes and make manual corrections when needed. This limits the time required for data clearing, and we were able to integrate it seamlessly into our clinical routine.

The feedback we have received about the ICW Master Patient Index over the course of the WebEPA+ project has been consistently positive so far, which is why we decided to incorporate it into the RKA campus project at our Bad Neustadt/Saale location. The campus approach involves consolidating several local hospital and clinics, standardizing the IT application environment, and moving to the newly built campus. The MPI will play a key role in consolidating the master data from the various connected systems, and thus ensure the success of the project.

Unique patient identification ensures that doctors can access the right person’s information.