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How EMPIs, MSPs, and the Cloud Can Help Make Health Data More Actionable


An enterprise master patient index can help a health organizations better understand their populations, but they may want some help in setting one up.

The ubiquity of electronic health records (EHR) and the proliferation of cloud computing in healthcare have left organizations in a better position to develop enterprise master patient indexes (EMPIs). An EMPI can help eliminate errors, improve data integrity, and prevent patient record duplication, and by teaming with a managed service provider (MSP) to create one, health IT decision-makers can maximize their efforts.

Many MSPs have partner agreements with cloud vendors, which are being relied on to help health organizations build scalable EMPI platforms that are continuously maintained, updated and accurate. Cloud computing can ingest mass volumes of patient data from various siloed systems and present it across the enterprise with a high level of transparency, allowing providers to access actionable patient information for improved care coordination and clinical decision-making.

Healthcare organizations need to keep in mind that whether they are using Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google, or IBM, every cloud vendor has their own software stacks and their own unique approach to provisioning and managing tools. Many MSP partners of cloud vendors can help health organizations transition to a vendor’s portal, handle APIs, and assist with other management features.

MSPs vs Hiring IT Talent

The move to cloud computing and the creation of an EMPI create various additional challenges, but many organizations prefer not to hire additional staff to handle them. One reason for this is that staffing requirements are exceedingly cyclical, highly specialized, and prohibitively costly. In addition to the cost of setting up teams to handle these issues, there is the complexity of developing efficient data resolution processes and training staff to execute them.

Take, for example, the initial data upload to the EMPI. Depending on what past processes were used to manage patient population data, there could be a record duplication rate of over 10 percent. For large institutions with millions of records, this can represent a significant number of records that require ample staff time to clean up. Similar spikes in resource requirements occur when onboarding new data sources during organizational restructuring or when new systems come online.

Hiring an MSP to perform these tasks can leverage a healthcare organization’s IT resources while saving money and creating greater efficiency.

An MSP can also help healthcare organizations with an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) aligned delivery model that covers all aspects of EMPI solutions such as incident management, change management, release and deployment, and major incidents for high impact issues. This approach can lessen a providers’ focus on data management and help them turn their attention to providing quality of care initiatives.

MSPs and Healthcare Transformation

While the healthcare industry pivots from fee-for-service to a value-based model, organizations are looking for technology to improve their engagements in risk-based programs, like bundled payment or population health initiatives. MSPs can assist healthcare customers in tackling the issues that arise such programs, which rely on the accurate exchange of data among care team members within healthcare facilities. Care teams require a care coordination model that reduces the complexities of duplicate records and inaccurate patient data.

To successfully design a patient data management system that supports risk-based programs, organizations must evaluate and analyze the data they manage, formulate requirements that keep patient information secure and up-to-date, and develop strategies that support their business operations.

To gain financial rewards from risk-based contracts, MSPs can help provide regular maintenance and tunings of an EMPI engine. This is to ensure that the EMPI is delivering superior, continuous patient matching capabilities. When not maintained correctly, healthcare organizations typically end up with a higher number of duplicates and a non-performant EMPI, which ultimately delays and negatively impacts care delivery, and places quality and patient safety at risk.

Turning to an MSP that can provide a hosted, SaaS subscription model can help healthcare organizations meet their goals of improving total cost of ownership while enhancing the performance of their EMPI engine. Additionally, MSPs and their cloud vendor partners offer solutions that enhance security, avoid future capital investments on hardware and software, and leverage IT skills.

Many MSPs involved in patient data management can also help protect their customers’ data from cybersecurity and ransomware attacks. Many also have implemented policies and security technologies to help partners remain compliant under HIPAA while meeting patient data reporting requirements under MACRA.

As healthcare consolidation continues large delivery networks must consider how they’ll design an effective EMPI that provides a high level of clean, actionable patient data. MSPs can prepare your EMPI system for the challenges that healthcare transformation will bring in the years ahead.

Shahzad Ahmad is Vice President of Cloud Operations & Delivery for NextGate, a global healthcare leader in identity management.

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