Evaluating the effect of data standardization and validation on patient matching accuracy

Shaun J. Grannis, Huiping Xu, Joshua R. Vest, Suranga Kasthurirathne, Na Bo, Ben Moscovitch, Rita Torkzadeh, Josh Rising

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Objective: This study evaluated the degree to which recommendations for demographic data standardization improve patient matching accuracy using real-world datasets. Materials and Methods: We used 4 manually reviewed datasets, containing a random selection of matches and nonmatches. Matching datasets included health information exchange (HIE) records, public health registry records, Social Security Death Master File records, and newborn screening records. Standardized fields including last name, telephone number, social security number, date of birth, and address. Matching performance was evaluated using 4 metrics: sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and accuracy. Results: Standardizing address was independently associated with improved matching sensitivities for both the public health and HIE datasets of approximately 0.6% and 4.5%. Overall accuracy was unchanged for both datasets due to reduced match specificity. We observed no similar impact for address standardization in the death master file dataset. Standardizing last name yielded improved matching sensitivity of 0.6% for the HIE dataset, while overall accuracy remained the same due to a decrease inmatch specificity.We noted no similar impact for other datasets. Standardizing other individual fields (telephone, date of birth, or social security number) showed no matching improvements. As standardizing address and last name improved matching sensitivity, we examined the combined effect of address and last name standardization, which showed that standardization improved sensitivity from 81.3% to 91.6% for the HIE dataset. Conclusions: Data standardization can improve match rates, thus ensuring that patients and clinicians have better data on which to make decisions to enhance care quality and safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-456
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 8 2019


  • data standards
  • interoperability
  • patient identification
  • patient matching
  • record linkage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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