ONC Releases Technical Specification for Patient Addresses

Jan. 7, 2022
How patient addresses are represented has long been viewed as a critical component of nationwide health IT interoperability

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has released Version 1.0 of Project US@ (USA), its healthcare specification for representing patient addresses to improve patient matching.

A draft Technical Specification Version 1.0 was released for comment in June 2021 and standards development organizations (SDOs) collected input during a 30-day comment period in July 2021. Nearly 130 comments were received from stakeholders and the public, informing the Final Version 1.0

In releasing the specification, ONC noted that patient matching and specifically how patient addresses are represented has long been viewed as a critical component of nationwide interoperability. In a blog post, ONC executives noted that “among the many data elements that are used in patient matching, research has shown patient address to be one of the most sensitive to standardization and therefore impactful on patient matching, especially at scale. However, patient addresses change frequently, are often entered incorrectly or imprecisely.”

Now that a unified, cross-standards development organization specification exists, ONC said it encourages state and federal agencies, public health organizations, payers, health IT developers, research organizations, healthcare providers, and other interested stakeholders to consider adopting and implementing the final specification.

“A standardized patient address might seem like a small thing, but that’s precisely why this work was important. Improving the accuracy and consistency of addresses will have a big impact if implemented at scale,” said Steve Posnack, deputy national coordinator for health IT, in a statement. “I am grateful to the SDOs, federal partners, and health IT stakeholders who all joined in to rapidly develop this new specification.”

A Project US@ Companion Guide developed by and in collaboration with the American Health Information Management Association provides operational best practices related to accurate and timely capture and management of patient addresses developed in Project US@ Technical Specification Final Version 1.0.

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