Improved patient matching requires sensitivity training on collecting data for the LGBTQ population

January 22, 2020
CHICAGO - January 22, 2020 - Identifying and collecting sexual orientation and gender identity (SO/GI) information for the LGBTQ population is an important step in decreasing errors related to patient matching and improving quality care that leads to better outcomes.

In the January 2020 issue of the Journal of AHIMA, in the article "How Inclusive is Your Data? Collection and Workflow Considerations for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data," authors Julie Pursley Dooling, MSHI, RHIA, CHDA, FAHIMA; Stevan Hildago, MS, RHIA, CHPS; and Jamie Woebkenberg, MHIM, RHIA, CPHI, FAHIMA, share the results of a poll conducted during an education session at the AHIMA19: Health Data and Information Conference in Chicago, which found that only 46 percent of organizations were capturing SO/GI data, and even fewer (only 33 percent of organizations) had policies specific to transgender patients.

"One central piece of information that needs to be collected and easily visible in the EHR is the patient's preferred name," the authors write. "Having a record of this name in addition to the proper pronouns is vital to delivering personalized customer service for many LGBTQ patients."

The National LGBT Health Education Center, through Fenway Health, collects the following data elements at registration:

● Legal name
● Preferred name
● Pronouns
● Legal sex
● Sexual orientation
● Gender identity
● Assigned sex at birth

Staff must create a climate of inclusion and trust so that patients understand that their rights and information are protected and won't be shared without patient consent, with the exception of instances allowed by HIPAA for treatment, payment, and healthcare operations.

"AHIMA fully supports the collection and use of inclusive data in EHRs for the LGBTQ community in order to provide the best possible care and outcomes," said AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE. "Identifying data that fully represent the needs of each patient is part of our vision to transform health and healthcare by connecting people, systems, and ideas."

Experts say that sensitivity training and talking points should be a part of implementing greater inclusivity measures that promote improved accuracy within the patient matching process.

Also in this issue

The HIM View for 2020

AHIMA's transformation for 2020 and beyond includes a focus on integrity, access, and change, defined as "impact areas" by Wiggs Harris, part of a "bold vision for ecosystem-wide change."

Within that vision and topping the list of hot topics in health information management (HIM) for AHIMA in 2020 are patient identification and matching, social determinants of health (SDOH) and legislative advocacy related to privacy, interoperability, and patient identification.

As part of an issue that introduces a revamped and mobile-friendly website that includes interactive quizzes, the article outlines AHIMA's upcoming objectives for the year ahead including:

● A robust advocacy agenda that includes legislative steps in support of a nationwide patient matching and identification solution
● Influencing the development and maintenance of national and international medical coding standards
● Advancing health information sharing policies by aligning 42 CFR Part 2 regulations
● Advocating for the inclusion of SDOH in the identification, collection, and use of data

Read these articles and more in the January issue of the Journal of AHIMA or online at


The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) represents more than 103,000 health information professionals in the United States and around the world. AHIMA is committed to promoting and advocating for best practices in health information and to actively contributing to the development and advancement of health information professionals worldwide,