Common Key Service

The Common Key Service (CKS) use case provides a consistent and reliable way to match patients with their electronic health information across multiple organizations, applications, and services.

Common Key Service

One of the most important goals of sharing patient information electronically is helping doctors build complete, current pictures of their patients using health information from multiple sources. These sources can include other doctors or specialists, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, skilled nursing facilities and any other healthcare setting where care is provided. Enabling doctors to gather the details to build these complete patient pictures requires accurate “patient-matching” to make sure electronic health information from outside sources is attached to the correct patient.

These patient-matching challenges can cause higher healthcare costs and lower care quality in many ways. When a patient’s health information is shared among doctors who use different systems, a lot of effort is needed to find and evaluate variations and identify the correct patient in each health information system. Errors can and do occur, meaning the wrong information can be matched to a patient.

Documents for this use case are shown below. For any questions regarding these documents, please contact us.

Use Case Summary:

Use Case Implementation Guide:

The “Persona” Story


Tricia Franklin, a 29-year-old soon-to-be mother, is ready to give birth to her first child and is preparing to be admitted to a small hospital in Southern Michigan. In the months leading up to the birth, Tricia has been looking for a place to live permanently and ended up bouncing between different doctors in the Upper Peninsula and Southern Michigan to meet her prenatal, behavioral health, and primary care needs. Previously, when Tricia filled out paperwork with new doctors, she used the addresses of different friends she was staying with at a given time. Sometimes Tricia also filled out paperwork with other variations of her name: Trish and Patricia.

While Tricia’s doctors are spread out in several different geographic locations, every member of her care team is committed to active involvement in Tricia’s healthcare. Each doctor has declared an active care relationship with Tricia in the Active Care Relationship Service (ACRS) and has requested to receive alerts and notifications relating to her care when her status changes.

When Tricia is admitted to Community Family Hospital, an electronic notification is sent to her active care team members. In the past, even the minor differences in a patient identifying information in each of the medical records could lead to failure in finding some of records, which could then lead to incomplete coordination of care. However, because Tricia has been assigned a unique “common key” and each member of her care team has linked Tricia to the same common key in their system(s), all of the care team members will receive the notification that she has been admitted. Each member of the team can easily find their records for her with knowledge that they have identified the correct patient and provided the complete records for her.

Tricia’s care team now feels confident that they can better coordinate and stay informed on her care now that they use a common key to help increase the ability to locate the correct health information.

Medical records should not be the first thought on any new parent’s mind. And now being part of the CKS, Tricia isn’t distracted by it. She gets to focus all her attention on her new bundle of joy.