Success at a glance: Patient matching to support community outreach during COVID-19

April 14, 2022 by Experian Health

During the COVID-19 pandemic, national and state health departments needed timely and accurate patient data to communicate quickly with citizens and make decisions about the local public health response. With support from Experian Health, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) utilized Universal Identity Manager to provide members with reliable and accessible data tools to help slow the spread of disease. Here’s how the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) used those resources to improve contact tracing and patient outreach amid mass relocations.

According to Pew Research Center, more than a fifth of US adults changed their residence in 2020 because of the pandemic, or knew someone who did. In Tennessee, Epidemiologist and COVID-19 Team Lead David Fields identified mass relocation as a major obstacle to patient outreach during the pandemic. Job losses caused residential displacement, meaning that a patient’s health record didn’t always show the most current address. Because of the nature of their work, migrant farmworkers often have fluid living situations. This means that they rarely have a continuous home address and will share the same address or phone number with others, which hinders effective communication. And the private laboratories that expanded into COVID-19 testing often relied on stale contact data. These are some of the primary challenges that confronted the team in Tennessee working to verify data they were receiving.

Experian Health helped TDH close the gaps in patient records using the Universal Identity Manager (UIM) platform. With UIM, records are matched using a unique patient identifier that combines industry-leading demographic information with the highest quality reference data to create the Experian Single Best Record. This accurately identifies separate records that belong to one person, creating a “golden thread” that follows the patient throughout their healthcare journey.

TDH was fielding around 150 demographic data requests from community health departments per day. Before the pandemic, David’s team responded to these requests using proprietary and third-party databases that aggregated data held in public records. UIM complemented this approach with faster records matching, which allowed the team to provide quicker and more reliable patient contact information. In particular, UIM supported more efficient contact tracing during mass relocations by providing accurate phone numbers for citizens with positive COVID-19 test results and data for “hard-to-contact” cases. This solution also helped TDH create statistical analyses for the spread of COVID in the local populace by providing demographic data – such as gender and race.

Find out more about how Universal Identity Manager accurately matches and protects patient data across multiple data sources, to create a single, longitudinal view of each patient and real-time insights to improve public health decision making and patient outreach.

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