Dec. 1 – Marriott at Waterfront Place, Morgantown, WV: IMT is proud to share the story of how IMT OQM™ is improving the Lab Order/Results lifecycle at Cabell Huntington Hospital, during the WVHIMSS 2017 Fall Event.

IMT’s Deanna Nole and Cabell Huntington’s Lisa Luikart will be presenting a session titled, “Improving Patient Flow Using Business Process Tools” at 1pm to Health Information Management professionals from around West Virginia.

Feb. 19 – 23 – Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL: IMT will be back in Orlando for HIMSS 2017, the place to network and connect with health IT professionals.

To arrange a meeting with IMT while at the conference, please contact John Wieler:

We will be hosting our annual IBM Master Data Management and Governance Reception at Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, located just a 5 minute walk from the Orlando Convention Center.  Join us and our business partner IBM on the Miramar Patio, an authentic old Havana courtyard, where we will discuss innovative healthcare solutions for information governance, analytics, and master data management while enjoying the tastes and sounds of Cuba.

Register soon, as space is limited.

Event Details:

Location: Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar

Date: Tue. February 21st

Time: 5-7pm

Come and speak to our experts about real-life lessons learned, see a demonstration of these solutions, and network with other IBM Master Data Management and Governance users just like you.

To register for the IBM Master Data Management and Governance Reception, go to: Online Registration Portal

To register for HIMSS 2017, go to:

From a fine red wine to a sharp cheese, some things in this world only hit the “sweet spot” when allowed the time to develop and improve with age. This is rarely the case, though, when we discuss IT or Enterprise Data Systems and processes. In fact, planned obsolescence and Moore’s Law keep technology in a constant cycle of “out with the old and in with the new.” But what if we told you that sometimes Data Governance and IT technologies that are well established have the ability to get better with age, instead of breaking down? So, sit back (grab a nice glass of Cabernet and some cheese) and listen while we explain how the right policies and procedures, combined with the right technologies, can prove to get better with age.

Recently IMT invited Michelle Majerus, the Director of Health Information Management and Privacy Officer at Olmsted Medical Center (OMC) in Rochester, Minnesota, to share her team’s data governance and stewardship experiences. This was the second time Michelle presented her metrics to the IMT and IBM InfoSphere MDM community. In her first presentation, Ms. Majerus explained to us how OMC had leveraged the adoption of IBM InfoSphere MDM as an EMPI (Enterprise Master Patient Index) and IMT Resolve:ID to lower the rate and rate of data quality errors in their environment by 66% within a year.

View the recording

66% reduction in new Duplicates and Data Quality errors sounds pretty good… and for the team at OMC that was a moment to celebrate. However, the team didn’t stop there. They made sure that they stuck with these new governance and stewardship processes. OMC stayed true to the plan and, as Michelle Majerus noted in the September 21, 2016 webinar, that the numbers continued to get better over the second year, yielding a 73%reduction in Duplicates and a 77% reduction in data quality errors.

You may ask, “but why hasn’t the EMPI and Active Registration with IMT Resolve:ID completely removed the problem for OMC?” You might be surprised by the answer. It actually has. There were 0 (zero, the big nothing, nada) duplicates or overlaid records created in the sources that integrated to the EMPI with Active Registration. But there is one source in the OMC ecosystem that, because of a multi-tenant hosted model, does not support Active Registration integration to Resolve:ID. All of the recent duplicates, overlays, and data quality problems facing OMC are from that one source that isn’t leveraging Active Registration. Even with the one source creating duplicates occasionally, Olmsted now has less than .01% patient duplication.

Download the case study

Also during the webinar, Lorraine Fernandes, Founder and Principal at Fernandes Healthcare Insights offered commentary on trends in healthcare that relate to getting Patient Identification right from the onset.  Her thoughts and commentary on the Webinar are also found on her blog here.

Olmsted Medical Center has shown that with a commitment to proactive governance and stewardship, a healthcare organization can do better than “maintain” a healthy EMPI, they can make it better with age!
You might like to enjoy a good glass of wine (we like Elderton’s Ode to Lorraine) and a nice aged cheese (we like Kerrygold’s Reserve Irish Cheddar) while you view the Recording of our Sept. 21st Webinar and the Case Study.

If you would like to learn more about how IMT can help your organization see lasting benefits from Active Registration, please contact us.

June 8-10th, 2016 – Lansing Center, Lansing, MI: Connecting Michigan for Health is Michigan’s annual three-day conference dedicated to advancing the electronic sharing of health information to support healthcare delivery and payment transformations.  Speakers and attendees from around the U.S. convene to share major industry directions, developments and opportunities to make health transformation a reality.  Learn more at:

The theme of this year’s conference is:

“Constructing the Future of Health Information Sharing: Emerging Patterns for Innovation, Health Reform and Quality Improvement.”

We are excited to share our latest innovations that support health information sharing in Michigan.  If you would like to meet up with us in Lansing, click here to schedule a meeting.

Feb. 29 – Mar. 4 – Sands Expo Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV: IMT will be back in Las Vegas for HIMSS 2016, the place to network and connect with health IT professionals.

We will be hosting our annual IBM Master Data Management and Governance Reception at Aquaknox, located in the Venetian Hotel and Resort.  During the reception we will discuss innovative healthcare solutions for information governance, analytics, and master data management while enjoying fresh seafood – flown in daily.

Register soon, as space is limited.

Event Details:

Location: Aquaknox @ The Venetian – Las Vegas

Date: Wed. March 2, 2016

Time: 5-7pm

Come and speak to our experts about real-life lessons learned, see a demonstration of these solutions, and network with other IBM Master Data Management and Governance users just like you.

To register for the IBM Master Data Management and Governance Reception, go to: Online Registration Portal

To register for HIMSS 2016, go to:

Photo credit: The Strip @ Night via photopin (license)

If you’ve ever asked questions about MDM in the past, you might have gotten answers like these: “It’s always been done that way.”  “It is what it is.”  “That’s how they showed me to do it when I went to Boot Camp.”  While the “tried and tested” best practices of MDM have been in place for over 15 years now, there are some evolving customer demands that have us thinking about the normal approaches to configuration and questioning some of the default behavior patterns.

In this post we will discuss three questions that may cause you to rethink how you are doing MDM as well.

  1. What should happen to the non-surviving data when a merge occurs?
  2. Should having anonymous values trigger a score that reflects that data is different?
  3. Do all tasks need to be resolved from Inspector?

What should happen to the non-surviving data when a merge occurs?

In the default behavior of IBM InfoSphere MDM’s Virtual Hub (formerly known as Initiate), when two records are merged one is noted as a Survivor and the other becomes Obsolete.  The Obsolete record becomes completely deactivated – you cannot search for it, it will not be compared, and the record will reject all incoming updates.

Sounds fine, right?  But think about the data that the Obsolete record held before the Merge. In the default behavior, only the data that belonged to the Survivor record is searchable and usable going forward.  We recently complete a project for a Canadian Province where they questioned this approach.  Their point – a very valid one – was this: Shouldn’t the values from the Obsolete record be added to the Survivor’s historical information so that you can search on that data to retrieve the Survivor?

Wow, what a simple question?  This question led to a relatively straight-forward solution.  When two records are merged, the demographic data from the Obsolete record is copied into Survivor with an “Inactive” status.  Voilá!  Now, the data from the Obsolete record has a life beyond merger.  Those demographic values are now searchable and scorable in the context of MDM.

Should having anonymous values trigger a score that reflects that data is different?

Many of you are familiar with the IBM InfoSphere MDM concept of “Anonymous Values” where commonly used “fake” values such as BABY, CONFIDENTIAL, (999) 999-9999, or 01/01/1901 are treated as if they are NULL during analysis.  The theory is that by removing these values from the logical processing, we get a more accurate assessment of matching the records.  When it comes to attributes like Dates, Phones, and Identifiers the anonymous processing works as you would expect. However, analysis on Names does not always behave the way might intend when those anonymous values are stripped out.

While anonymous Name handling has always been promoted as a way to clarify differences, in reality the removal of the anonymous Names from MDM matching leads the Member Comparison process to register an Exact Match on when the other Names are factored in.

Record 1 Name Tokens:

Record 2 Name Tokens: Match Result: Overall Result:

BABYGIRL (Anonymous)

AMANDA No comparison EQUAL





Instead of listing those values as anonymous during standardization, you can set up scores in the weight tables, where those “Anonymous” names earn a score of Zero when comparing.  That way, when one record has the “Anonymous” name and the second record has the real name, you get a result that indicates that they are “Different” and ends up adjusting the score accordingly.  If both records have the “Anonymous” name, you will see that they are “Equal” but no score will be added.

Record 1 Name Tokens:

Record 2 Name Tokens: Match Result: Overall Result:
BABYGIRL (Anonymous) AMANDA Disagree



R Exact



Remember, though… anonymous values also play a role in searching your Buckets.  So, you should still have these Anonymous names listed in a secondary list that is attached to your Name Buckets.  The end result will be worth the reconfiguration!

Do all tasks need to be resolved in Inspector?

This is a question we get asked a lot… and the answer is surprising to many.  No, you don’t have to work all of your tasks in Inspector.  But let us clarify… while the tasks don’t always have to be worked in the MDM tools, they should still be handled appropriately.

When we really look at the majority of tasks, they fall into two types: Potential Linkage and Potential Duplicate.  Potential Linkages (which are records from different sources with questionable scores) should be worked from the Inspector interface to establish the correct linking between records.  However, when it comes to Potential Duplicates (or records from the same source) resolving the records from Inspector is not always the best way to handle the process.

If you resolve Potential Duplicates, either with a merge or a clarification that records are different, the MDM engine creates a Rule.  Those rules act like a legal precedent, upholding the prior decision each time data changes call into question the validity of the match.  In essence, the MDM engine will have to ask for permission each time it reviews those records in the future.  Lots of rules can cause your probabilistic engine to behave more like a deterministic one, which slows down the engine and leads to unexpected results.

On a related note, if you merge two Potential Duplicates in Inspector, you still need to go back to the Source and do the same thing.  But if you merge from the Source, it automatically merges in MDM.  One step vs. Two… pretty simple.  Merging from the Source will not only perform the merge in MDM it will also remove the Task from the queue.  We have many clients who are using the Task list as a report, then going through and working the Merges (where the clinical data also resides) instead of in Inspector.

Keep questioning!

We want to leave you with a final thought.  Keep questioning… keep asking why something works a specific way, why a seeming “default” setting is there, and why the “out of the box” configuration is doing what it’s doing.  In most cases the answer is simply “because that’s how it’s always been done.

If you want to optimize your MDM, please reach out to IMT at and we would be happy to help you find the best practices that work for you.

“Dad, I can’t find my shoes!” is a constant refrain heard in my household. “Well, did you actually look for them?” is my usual reply. In the lost-and-found world of our home lives we get annoyed with these kinds of antics, but when it comes to registering patients, sometimes we are in such a rush that we don’t take the time to carefully look for patients either. Instead we just say “I can’t find your medical record” and create a new one (or some hospitals have a “Stat Reg” policy where new records are created every visit). Regardless of how duplicates are created, they only lead to a headache for someone else downstream.

Duplicate medical records create problems, from fragmenting a patient’s medical history to re-ordering “missing” tests and procedures. Across the US and Canada, it is estimated that between 8-12% (AHIMA) of the records in EMRs are duplicates. The cost to resolve a duplicate averages around $60 ( per incident; so resolving the duplicates in a patient set of 500,000 could cost close to $35,000 – which adds up. The clinical implications of a Physician or Caregiver not seeing the complete medical history or full set of test results and can easily create a patient safety emergency.

To be fair… there are a ton of awesome registrars working in the emergency rooms, ambulatory care centers, and clinics across the healthcare universe. But, the tools at their disposal for finding patients rarely offer helpful features to make their jobs easier.

Look first… then tell me you can’t find it

That’s where Active Registration comes into play. It’s like having a parent who has mapped the contents of the house in their photographic memory and who is willing to help you look for your juice box (instead of issuing snarky remarks from the couch). Only if you have looked first, can you move on the more advanced step of getting another one.

Active Registration is the process of:

  • Looking up a patient’s record at the point of registration
  • Confirming the patient’s demographics while they are present
  • Making any updates to the patient record (while the patient is still there)
  • Creating a new patient record only if we are certain the patient is new

This is nothing new. But the thing that impedes effective Active Registration is the lack of insight into all of the different systems that store patient data across the healthcare enterprise. Which is precisely why Active Registration needs a trustworthy Enterprise Master Person Index (EMPI) behind the scenes to keep track of the records in your systems.

EMPI + Active Registration = Big Results

Michelle Majerus, HIM Director and Privacy Officer at Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester, MN recently shared her experience with deploying Active Registration at an IMT and IBM co-sponsored event (download the presentation). Olmsted was able to show the measurable impact that Active Registration made, not only in data quality but also in time spent resolving issues. Michelle was joined by Lorraine Fernandes, Global Health Care Ambassador at IBM, and IMT’s own Corinne Blair, who offered industry context and offered additional solutions.

Here are some of the highlights:

Olmsted began their project by deploying a “Passive Registration” style, where duplicate records and overlays were corrected “after the fact” if a patient was not found in the local registration system.

During the passive phase, a baseline was established over a 5-day period:

Baseline, EMPI Passive

Data Quality Issues






Staff Time (hours)


Phase two included the implementation of IMT Resolve:ID™ to perform a seamless lookup of records across systems in IBM® MDM at the point of registration. Leveraging IBM® MDM allows a more sophisticated search (i.e., Nicknames, Phonetics, etc.) of any known patient across the enterprise.

Data Quality Issues



Staff Time (hours)

Baseline, EMPI Passive





One Month post Active





Six Months post Active





One month after switching to Active Registration, a huge impact was noticed. But six months later, once Active Registration lookups had become ingrained in the process, it became clear that the investment in IMT Resolve:ID™ was having a significant long-term impact:

  • 66% reduction in new Data Quality issues over the course of a 6 month window, showing that staff were able to leverage Resolve:ID™ more effectively.
  • 68% reduction in Duplicates being created during registration and a total elimination of Overlays.
  • 80% reduction in the time required by staff to manually resolve Data Quality issues.

Beyond the Numbers

Deploying the IBM® MDM platform for an EMPI gave Olmsted the confidence of knowing a single, complete and trusted view of their patients. Physicians, Staff, Registration, and Billing were all able to see the positive effects of the EMPI. The addition of IMT Resolve:ID™ further accelerated the benefits by avoiding data quality errors at the point of registration – doing it right, from the start.

Here are some additional benefits Olmsted was able to see:

  • Reduced potential for misdiagnosis with a more complete view of the patient’s medical history, including radiology and lab results.
  • Lowered the amount of time it took to register a patient by confirming data instead of entering data.
  • Reduction in duplicate tests meant less money spent supporting accountable care mandates.
  • Elimination of duplicate billing, which increased customer satisfaction by giving the patient their information in one place.

Finding Solutions

While I still dream of the day when my living room won’t be littered with the “missing” shoes my kids can’t find; Olmsted is already reaping the benefits of Active Registration with their EMPI today. IBM® MDM and IMT Resolve:ID™ have combined to make a cleaner, more complete set of Patient data that all of Olmsted’s staff can trust.

Visit the IMT Resolve:ID™ page to learn more, download the presentation, a fact sheet, or watch a video demo of IMT Resolve:ID™ in action.

Photo credit: Mark Quintanilla via photopin (license)