EMPI called 'critical' to accurate EMRs

Want to make sure your electronic medical records are tied to the right patients and weed out duplicate records? Getting ready to start health information exchange? You'll likely need an enterprise master patient index, a growing number of EMR experts say.

"As you pull together an EMR, I like to think of it like the human body. The EMPI is one of those critical organs that needs to be strong, and needs to be pumping healthy information to the rest of the brain and the rest of the body," Pennsylvania-based health IT consultant Kerry Kerlin tells Healthcare Informatics.

"The MPI and the EMPI function are absolutely critical to record integrity," adds Mary Anne Leach, CIO of The Children's Hospital in Aurora, Colo. "All of the sophisticated tools on the planet aren't going to fix anything if the patient presents with different data."

Providence Hospital in Mobile, Ala., was able to cut its 14 percent records duplication rate in half by implementing the Smart Identity Management tool from EMR vendor QuadraMed to track down the source of errors. The duplication rate with newly created records is less than 2 percent, CIO Cynthia Hyde reports, and this is an EMR with close to 60 points of data entry because various clinical and administrative systems are not tightly integrated.

For more about the role of EMPIs in patient identification:
- check out this Healthcare Informatics story