The federal government's forthcoming definition of "meaningful use" of electronic health records should include ways to ensure the accuracy of data in the EHRs, according to Enclarity Inc., an Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based vendor of data management software.

In a comment letter to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the company explained how data accuracy degrades over time:

"Think of it this way: Dr. J. Smith has moved his practice and changed his billing information three times over the course of a five-year period. He has seen the same patient over that same time frame, and that patient has moved once, gotten married and changed insurance coverage twice. Now, numerous transactions should exist within the EHR. What will be the key to link those together? Further, if a new provider is attempting to assess the information within the EHR, they may not see the entire picture, and therefore may not be able to chart the best course of treatment or contact the prior physician."

Without appropriate data management, the accuracy, efficacy and overall usefulness of the EHR can be called into question, the vendor contends in its comment letter.

"Enclarity strongly recommends that the 'meaningful use' definition and roadmap include safeguards to data accuracy. We also recommend a process be developed to account for the rapidly changing member and provider demographic data that is housed within the EHR. Further, we believe that a unique key is needed to link records together, as changes in critical demographic information occur over time."

Full text of the comment letter is available at

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