How to Avoid Duplicate Provider Data

How to Avoid Duplicate Provider Data

Jul 3, 2018
  • Author:
    Lisa Rothmuller, CPCS
    AVP, Clinical Solutions and CVO Services
    Lisa works with clients and organizations to provide Strategic Account Management and best practice and solution consulting. Lisa has a bachelor's degree in Economics/Finance from Bentley University in Boston, Massachusetts and currently resides in San Diego.

Having an accurate Master Provider Database is essential for any healthcare organization. Over time it is easy to see how duplicate provider information occurs. Changes in process, merging of systems, and lack of user control are all contributors. In addition to providers, duplicate information can be found in common elements of a provider’s information.

Common Causes

Merging Databases: When a new hospital or medical group is added to a database, key record identifiers can differ. If a matching criteria is inaccurate due to differing data entry methodologies, duplicates can occur.

Different Departments Sharing Data: Multiple departments use data in different ways and for various purposes. This can lead groups to create a duplicate record for their own purposes.

Unlimited User Rights: Users with the ability to add data may not be aware of the proper procedures for adding and searching for data, thus allowing them to duplicate.


An audit of one organization’s database led to identification of duplicates. Further global queries revealed over 3% of records were duplicates or needed additional review. Many duplicates were associated with demographic information changes such as name and address.

Downstream System Inaccuracies: Duplicates can lead to inaccuracies within the global system. This inaccurate information is trickled down to multiple systems and may have implications upon communications or exchanges of correct information between providers and patients.

Provider Communication Inaccuracies: Duplication of either a provider record or an address can appear unprofessional in a communication. Especially when a provider has updated their information but multiple records still exist with the outdated information.

Best Practices

Import Criteria: Prevent duplication from occurring prior to a merge or import by considering additional matching criteria.

User Merge/Delete Rights: Implementing and maintaining user rights will prevent untrained users from adding duplicates. Consider authorizing the right to merge/delete only to those who have a complete understanding of how to search for data prior to adding a new entry. Periodic audits looking specifically for duplication can also help accurately clean up data.

Establish Data Storage Policy: A defined set of rules outlining the proper steps to follow when managing information storage can minimize confusion for users. Conducting training sessions periodically on the process will also minimize duplication.