Lynn Stoltz

7 questions product leaders should ask when evaluating EMPI solutions

Healthcare IT product leaders are increasingly turning to enterprise master person index (EMPI) solutions to help address identity data challenges for their customers. Choosing the right EMPI solution can help you deliver short- and long-term value to your customers. But the wrong choice of EMPI vendor can trap you into an implementation that restricts system integration and future growth.  

Here are seven questions product leaders need to ask potential EMPI partners before making a choice. 

  1. Was this EMPI designed specifically for healthcare?  

Patient identity is top of mind in healthcare. According to Gartner®, “client interest in EMPIs is growing worldwide. Interest is arising equally from government agencies, government-chartered private organizations and private health services.”  

As a result, some data management vendors now see healthcare as a promising market and have repurposed products designed for other industries so that they seem to address healthcare’s specific concerns. But healthcare data is both specific and complex, and the consequences of an error can be severe.  

Look for an EMPI solution that grows out of a deep understanding of the unique requirements of the healthcare space. 

  1. Does this EMPI support integration and interoperability? 

Healthcare’s digital transformation faces the problems of multiple systems with different data structures, mergers and acquisitions that bring in new facilities, and the incorporation of new data sources. 

An EMPI that is difficult to integrate with other systems will leave you with unreliable or incomplete data connections, a problem that will only get worse as you and your customers grow. Integration is where most EMPI implementations fail. 

You need an EMPI solution based on a deep understanding of overall data integration issues, and one that offers proven integration capabilities that can address the interoperability requirements of each system vendor. 

  1. Can this EMPI solution scale to support future growth? 

As an EMPI proves its utility in your organization, more systems will depend on the reliable patient identification it provides. Some EMPI solutions start seeing performance problems as they incorporate more network participants, more records, and more data sources, and struggle to keep up with the “real-time” nature of healthcare.  

This can be disastrous for an organization that strives to increase both its reach and the quality of its services. 

Ensure that the EMPI solution you choose can manage your growth, offering proven support for global expansion, large enterprise customers, and high availability SLAs. 

  1. How does this EMPI handle populations that can’t be matched with reference data? 

A key source of patient identification reliability comes from matching patient information against data from outside sources, a process called referential matching.  

But there are populations for which referential mapping is unavailable or unreliable. For minors under 13, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits using their reference data.  

Patients between 13 and 18, the undocumented, and those with limited credit records have sparse or nonexistent reference data. A good chunk of your patient base can have reference problems. 

This is where the quality of matching algorithms and how they are combined to provide comprehensive patient matching coverage becomes crucial to reliable patient identity data management. 

Pick an EMPI solution that has robust matching algorithms in addition to referential matching methods. 

  1. How does this EMPI minimize record duplicates and overlays? 

The more a patient interacts with a healthcare provider organization, the more likely it is for duplicate or conflicting information to be captured for that patient. Efficient management of these data inconsistencies is critical, so that incorrect data is not used for making clinical decisions – or for billing or data analytics. 

Your EMPI should have mature procedural and automatic methods for both detecting and managing the resolution of these errors. 

  1. What data stewardship does this EMPI provide? 

To be truly effective, an EMPI needs stewardship capabilities that include automated workflows, full visibility to data history for each patient, and other controls to minimize errors and allow better automatic matching. This stewardship shouldn’t impose an excess procedural or computational burden. 

Whether or not you plan to leverage these capabilities out of the gate, it is wise to ensure your EMPI provides a framework that allows your organization to have fully transparent access to – and control over – the data resolution process so – or your customers – can resolve data issues with high confidence and minimal burden. 

  1. Does this EMPI have flexible deployment capabilities? 

Each healthcare organization has its own operational needs. Depending on their IT resources, schedules, and competing priorities, they may work better with cloud, on-premises, software-as-a-service (SaaS), or managed service implementations. Some require EMPI support in facilities worldwide. 

Make sure your EMPI solution offers the flexibility to deploy according to your needs, anywhere you operate and anywhere your customers provider care. 

Need a deep dive on how you can integrate an EMPI into your solutions?

Ready to talk to an EMPI expert? Contact us today.  

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