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Moving the Needle Toward a 1% Duplicate Rate

By Karen Proffitt, Vice President of Data Integrity Solutions, MHIIM, RHIA, CHP and
Rachel Podczervinski, MS, RHIA, Vice President Professional Services

From legislative efforts to standardize data formats and move toward a national patient identifier to contact tracing, immunization and other COVID-19 mitigation programs, patient matching took center stage in 2020. And it is likely to remain there during the coming year as solutions to the problems that plague it remain elusive. 

Consider the following realities:


In our AHIMA20 Virtual Conference article, Strategies For An Immediate Improvement In Patient Matching, we dug into why a standardized national approach to patient identification is a long way off—meaning the ongoing lack of data standards and naming conventions will continue to negatively impact duplicate rates. 

More importantly, we proposed some steps healthcare organizations can take now to chip away at their duplicate rates. These include:

  • Conducting an MPI cleanup to deal with existing duplicates, overlays, and shell records
  • Auditing standards in conjunction with Patient Access to determine what policies are in place to ensure the MPI remains clean
  • Training employees on the standards
  • Conducting ongoing quality assurance to identify problem areas and intervene with education and training when necessary
  • Leveraging existing tools, including the USPS address-formatting tool, to help standardize data as much as possible in lieu of national guidelines


While these actions can help address inadequate patient matching, they cannot fully resolve what is now one of healthcare’s most intractable problems. There are simply too many other issues contributing to the nation’s dismal match rate. For that, we need a multi-faceted solution that brings together USPS tools, third-party data, expert analysis and intervention, and industry-wide standardization.

But they can move the needle, which gets us heading in the right direction toward accuracy and patient safety. And that’s important, because when hospitals take advantage of the resources available today, we can get to AHIMA’s goal of a 1% duplication rate far faster than we will just sitting on the sidelines and waiting for a national solution.