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Managing MPI Data Integrity

In a recent Journal of AHIMA column entitled “Ensuring Data Integrity Through a Clean Master Patient Index” (subscription required) the authors highlighted the importance of including MPI/EMPI management in an organization’s strategic plan.

We are in complete agreement. And here is why:

  • The MPI is the backbone of the EHR.
  • MPI errors can impact patient care decisions and patient safety.
  • MPI errors often proliferate downstream into multiple systems.
  • Data integration projects are adversely affected when MPI data integrity is compromised.
  • MPI issues can slow billing cycles.
  • MPI errors impact patient and physician satisfaction.
  • MPI errors make hitting meaningful use criteria harder.
  • MPI errors skew all big data analytics


In other words….Duplicate records are the unwanted gift that keeps on giving!

A “dirty” MPI creates exponentially more duplicates. Stopping the cycle requires that healthcare organizations make MPI/EMPI management a key strategic focus—and that requires a team of data integrity specialists.  

Modern Day MPI Management

The days of having one clerk grind through a daily duplicate report are long gone. Today’s MPI management involves planning, prevention, error trending, reporting and ongoing data quality improvement initiatives.

This, in turn, requires hospitals to allocate appropriate resources to effectively manage the entire MPI data integrity arena. These data integrity teams are routinely tasked with researching and reconciling duplicate records, EHR documentation errors and overlaid records. They must also periodically coordinate or plan MPI data conversions and pre-load MPI clean-up projects, analyze MPI data quality and communicate trends and errors to registration leaders and data governance committees.

Additionally, the data integrity team should be involved in data-mapping decisions, as well as establishing system naming conventions and training registration staff. The team’s expertise is also needed to advocate for patient matching algorithm enhancements and to provide iterative feedback when new logic is configured.

Evolving Needs

A 2013 HIMSS survey revealed that 73 percent of hospitals were participating in some form of health information organization (HIO). Guess what? HIO participation increases the responsibilities of the data integrity team. It also requires the establishment of communication channels for collaborative error correction and of procedures for correcting MPI and EHR errors.

The bottom line is this: a commitment to accurate patient identity requires establishment of a dedicated data integrity team that is empowered to and accountable for maintaining the facility’s data governance structure.

As with most things, when it comes to MPI management, a proactive approach is best!

Karen Proffitt MHIIM, RHIA, CHP

VP Consulting Services

Just Associates, Inc.