Search for a patient with identifier

If you already have an identifier for a patient, you can easily locate the patient’s record in an EHR system by searching for a patient with that identifier. Typically, you can use this for: 

  • Tying patient records from your system to the patient’s record in the relevant EHR;
  • Locating other patient identifiers used in different systems; or 
  • Starting a search for patient’s demographics, insurance, general clinical data, test results, prescribed medications, or vaccination history.

Searching with an identifier is usually the most accurate way to locate a patient record. Since identifiers should be unique to each patient, we recommend searching with identifiers to searching with demographics, when possible. 

Supported systems

You can use this API action with the Redox FHIR® API.

Your connection's system can return results with their own FHIR® or query-based API.

Using data on demand

It's possible that your connection's system can't support a query-based data exchange, but they may still be willing to provide results with a push-based method.

However, we understand that you may not want to store all that data—maybe you don't need all possible results and just want to query for what you want when you need it. If so, you can use this API action via our data on demand service, which stores the connection's data so that you can query from Redox "on demand." .

Special considerations

We mentioned that this API action is a great option for easily locating a patient, but that doesn't mean that it works like a Google search or a typical SQL database search. The purpose is to find matches for a specific patient, not a list of potential patients. In other words, you have to know who you’re looking for.

Identifier types

A patient identifier is a unique value that represents a patient record. That value is only meaningful in a certain context, whether that be a particular system or namespace. The identifier type indicates what context to use to interpret the identifier. Typically each organization  has a single unique identifier type for a patient, which is called the master patient index (MPI). Then, there are alternative identifiers that are used for specific purposes.

For example, if the identifier is 123 with a type of MR, then you may know it’s for System A, which uses MRs to track patent records. On the other hand, you may have an identifier of 123 with a type of MRN, which should be used for System B since they use MRNs to track patient records. So the identifier may be the same, but the type may change the system it should be used with.  

You can potentially search for a patient with any of these common identifier types: 

  • medical record number (MRN)
  • medical record ID (MR)
  • driver’s license (DL)
  • passport number (PPN)
  • Social Security number (SSN)
  • FHIR® resource ID
  • EHR-specific identifiers
  • organization ID (OID)

A patient OID is an identifier specific to large integration networks, like the Carequality Interoperability Framework. The others are general identifiers that EHR systems may use to identify a patient.

FHIR® resource IDs

FHIR® uses a resource ID for the patient identifier type. If your connection uses FHIR®, you likely need the resource ID to locate patient data. If your workflow doesn’t begin with a FHIR®-supported API action, you may have a different identifier type for the patient. If so, you can use the patient identifier you already have with this API action to request the resource ID. Alternatively, you can search for a patient with demographics to locate the resource ID. Learn more about searching for a patient with demographics.

EHR-specific IDs 

The important thing to note about searching for a patient with an identifier is that you must search with the identifier types that are relevant to the EHR that you’re searching. That may sound obvious; but you can’t search for a patient by their driver’s license number if the EHR uses their MRN instead. You must use the ID and ID type as specified by the EHR.

Typically, the EHR provides at least one patient identifier that you can later search with. So, however you receive the patient identifier from the EHR is how you should send it in requests to the EHR. In some cases, you may need to ask the EHR what static identifier type they use. Or, you may receive the patient identifier when you send requests for other data, like requests related to scheduling or orders for that patient.

Action steps

This API action comprises one step.

Search for a patient with identifier

You can search for a patient with their unique identifier if you know which identifier type to use for the given EHR system.

For example, if you have the patient's MRN, but the EHR system uses the FHIR® resource ID, you may have to search for the patient with the MRN to locate all identifiers for this patient first; alternatively, you can search for a patient with demographics to locate the resource ID. Then, you can perform additional API actions that require the FHIR® resource ID.

Search parameters

Required search parametersDescription
identifierThe unique identifier within the EHR system for the patient being searched for.

Returned results

When searching for a patient with an identifier, you typically receive either one result or none. Multiple matches may be returned depending on the identifier type that you’re using (since not all patient identifiers are unique) or your integration type.

The below example shows how to use the Redox FHIR® API to search for a patient using their unique identifier within that EHR system (i.e., MRN).

Search for a patient with identifier Options

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