Skip to main content

Accurately Improving Accessibility of Patient Data With a Single File

August 08, 2019

By Julie Gould

bennettDave Bennett, southwest regional vice president of NextGate, a global leader in health care enterprise identification, discusses a new partnership with Life Image and highlights how the companies will identify and link patient records across disparate systems at extremely high rates of accuracy. 


Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I started my health care career right out of engineering school, where I've actually remained for now, oh, goodness, a little over 30 years. I've been someone blessed in that I worked for small number of companies that have been both smaller companies and also startups, which is where I tend to like to work. All of them have really been true innovators, and as part of that I've been able to sit in a fairly large number of different chairs from a responsibility perspective over my career.

Having worked as a design engineering, managing technical support teams, implementation teams, technical sales support teams, and direct sales and responsibilities has been a blessing and provided for a unique perspective. At a certain point, I was actually the CIO for one of nation's largest private practice radiology groups. It's been a pretty fun table to have traversed around.

Can you highlight how often patient data is currently being lost in the health care setting?

That's a great question. I think it's interesting, because the patient data actually isn't getting lost. Instead, it's just not easily found, accessible, and available at the right place and at the right time.

Really, what we've done over the years is continued to create what we're trying not to do, which is patient silos, where there's patient data scattered all over the community, or within a hospital, or health network’s single clinical information system.

If you look at the costs associated with patient duplication in the US—it’s about $6 billion annually, which comes down to about $1.5 million per hospital per year. That's a pretty significant problem when you start to consider the costs associated with loss in efficiency for the clinical staff.

When you talk about care quality delivery being affected, possible patient risk, loss in revenues, etc., it turns out to be a pretty serious subject. I like to chuckle in conversations I have around this subject, in that, can anybody name another life‑critical industry that excepts an 18% error rate on the front end?

The answer is no, which of course begs the answer to questions like; "How is this acceptable?” “Why do we continue to do this so poorly?"

Can you briefly highlight this new partnership will ensure that patients only have one record, and why is that so important to patient care?

Absolutely. The challenge is in connecting imaging studies from a multitude of disparate systems across the nation, which is what Life Image is doing with their set of products in conjunction with NextGate's Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI). The issue is that all these studies that are being connected have different identifiers associated with a given patient, and it's the same patient.

What we're doing is, through the use of both advanced deterministic and probabilistic algorithms, as well as some other advanced techniques, is we're able to identify and link the patient records across these disparate systems at extremely high rates of accuracy, which provides the foundation for building a single, comprehensive view of a given patient, and all of their clinical information.

Life Image embeds NextGate's Enterprise Master Patient Index technology into sophisticated imaging sack. With the functionality I just described within the NextGate EMPI, that enables a single comprehensive view of a given patient's imaging history to be represented to clinical teams, which is critical from a clinical workflow perspective, efficiency, patient safety, claims processing, analytics, and so many other things.

What can health care systems learn, and also take away, from your new partnership?

Good question. Considering that the average patient duplication rate today—even in controlled environments, such as a single hospital or small health system—is 18%, you might be able to imagine how complex linking patients across multiple unrelated systems, especially nationally would be, which is what Life Image is doing.

It's very complex. Connecting this information is critical in expanding interoperability in health care and health data exchange. Many organizations misinterpret the complexity or the requirements around patient identity management and the effects it has on clinical and business functions.

Our partners at Life Image are very attuned to this, the challenge, and are committed to building products that meet today's and tomorrow's interoperability needs and requirements. This is something I think is unique in this space and something we're honestly just proud to be a part of with them.

Do you believe that the health care sector will take partnerships similar to yours in the coming future? Why or why not?

I do. Health care in general is moving even more rapidly towards an increased emphasis on data exchange and true interoperability, which is very different than what most of it large, monolithic health information systems provide today.

We're starting to see a trend in the industry away from these single‑vendor solutions and back towards a best‑of‑breed approach. If history repeats itself, which I believe it will, this model proves to provide superior innovations, in general and especially in care delivery along with a much more open approach to sharing of information.

Yes, we're already starting to see the change in direction. We're starting to see it in the subspecialty modules within health care, radiology being one of them, where organizations that really do build better products or superior products to what are embedded into some of these large, monolithic systems, are coming back into the market, and able to really push the evolution of technology forward.

What are you most excited about for this partnership?

That's a great one. Partnering with specialized and very sophisticated technology companies such as Life Image, who are committed to improving patient care and reducing costs by tackling these complex issues around interoperability, is what we at NextGate believe to be the future in supporting better and more flexible care delivery models.

Having Life Image as a partner, with their clear focus on specialized image exchange and analytics, seems like a natural fit for us both. We're excited to be part of it and what they're doing, which we see to be both visionary and really the direction of a superior care delivery model.

Finally, just overall, is there anything else you would like to add?

Maybe lastly, I would encourage organizations to continue to push the limits of technology and not to just accept a basket of modules that they may get in some of these larger systems. Really, none of those systems ‑‑ or any of us, for that matter ‑‑ can build a single solution that provides the best module for every single specialty use case that the health care demands.

We all operate in a dynamic environment, which mandates more free‑flowing information and cleaner integration across multiple disparate systems. To limit the advanced functions some of these systems provide by not embracing a best‑of‑breed enterprise model also limits us in delivering better care and at a better price point.

I would encourage, all of our industry cohorts to continue to push forward and to build these superior modules, because they really do help carry us across the chasm into these better care models.

Disclosure: Mr Bennett is the Southwest Regional Vice President, of NextGate, a global leader in health care enterprise identification.

Back to Top