accurate patient ID in healthcare helps increase patient safety

New Partnership with CrossChx Signals Positive Changes for Patient ID

accurate patient ID in healthcare helps increase patient safety

Announcing a new partnership with CrossChx to help expand the use of biometric patient ID tech in healthcare.

In case you missed it, on Friday we officially announced a new and exciting partnership agreement with CrossChx. Under the terms of the partnership, CrossChx  customers can easily transition their existing SafeChx biometrics solution to RightPatient, while continuing to utilize other CrossChx products such as Olive artificial intelligence.

The healthcare industry continues to suffer the ill consequences of inaccurate patient identification, jeopardizing patient safety and the quality of care. RightPatient helps to alleviate patient misidentification and instantly and accurately identifies patients by capturing their photo. This photo is linked to a patient’s unique medical record and travels with them throughout a healthcare provider’s network to ensure safety during care delivery. Plus, clinicians at hospitals that use our patient identification service have commented that they love having a patient’s photo before administering services to help humanize care delivery and help patients feel welcome instead of just thinking they are a name and a number. We love to hear this!

Take notice because the winds of change are shifting for patient identification in healthcare. More providers recognize and understand the advantages and benefits of modernizing their patient ID technology and many are taking a very close look at the advantages that our service offers. Keep in mind that implementing a biometric patient identification service offers additional advantages above and beyond patient safety – most notably improvement in revenue cycle management, increases in patient data integrity, and prevention of fraud and medical identity theft at the point of service. 

Read more about our new partnership with CrossChx here.

Have questions? Drop us an email at: info@rightpatient.com

 

 

solving the patient ID crisis in healthcare

Does Renewed Call for National Patient ID Signal…Anything?

solving the patient ID crisis in healthcare

Will the latest letter to Congress asking for the 18 year HHS moratorium on a national patient identifier encourage them to act? (Photo courtesy of pexels.com).

Early last week, a group of 25 healthcare organizations representing providers, payers, and health IT companies submitted a letter to members of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations asking for the removal of a nearly twenty-year-old provision preventing HHS from adopting or implementing a national patient identifier. (source: http://bit.ly/2oQ9PEJ). The goal is to prod Congress to include specific language in the FY18 Labor-HHS spending bill that allows HHS to assist private sector organizations in promoting patient matching initiatives. It’s an unprecedented move to bring yet more attention to the growing and complex problem of accurate patient identification and data matching that continues to plague the healthcare industry from top to bottom, affecting just about every element of care delivery as patients move in and out of the care continuum.

As we have written about before on this blog, we have been saying for years that healthcare simply has to solve the patient ID dilemma and adopt a more holistic approach to patient matching that effectively addresses authentication at the host of new touchpoints borne from the digital health revolution. In fact, hospitals and healthcare systems who invest in patient ID solutions that only cover identification in physical, brick and mortar environments are doing themselves a disservice and severely limiting their ability to ensure patients are kept safe no matter where or in what context they seek care. If any of these institutions plan to participate in local, regional, or national health information exchanges (HIEs) or adopt interoperability standards in the spirit of open and fluid data exchange, they will quickly realize they made the wrong investment choice.

To frame the urgency of the situation, the letter stated:

 “According to a recent study of healthcare executives, misidentification costs the average healthcare facility $17.4 million per year in denied claims and potential lost revenue,” the letter stated. “More importantly, there are patient safety implications when data is matched to the wrong patient and when essential data is lacking from a patient’s record due to identity issues.” (Source: http://bit.ly/2oQ9PEJ

The letter even went on to point out that important initiatives like precision medicine and disease research could continue to suffer and lose significance in the absence of solving the patient ID issue not to underscore the potential negative impact on the aforementioned HIE and interoperability efforts. What’s clear is that millions and millions of research and development capital and manpower has been invested in advancing personalized medicine, data exchange, and interoperability in the absence of solving the problem of inaccurate patient identification and to be honest, we feel that many are starting to get a little nervous.

The question becomes – will this letter actually move the needle and capture lawmaker’s attention? Considering the new administration’s failed efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare and their healthcare agenda moving forward, our guess is probably not. While we applaud the effort, past attempts to bring this issue to the forefront in the spirit of including language and funding in the HHS appropriations bill that lifts the 18 year moratorium on patient identification have generally stalled. In our opinion, there are too many more high profile healthcare issues at play that diminish the urgency of solving patient ID in healthcare. Unfortunately, achieving accurate patient ID in healthcare doesn’t carry enough political clout to be considered something worth immediately pursuing and it’s simply not enough of a concern of lawmaker constituents for them to kick up a fuss at the fact that it remains unsolved. At least not yet, anyway.

We wonder….would this group of 25 healthcare organizations be better served to build a larger and more widespread groundswell of support among us, the patients, about achieving accurate patient ID in healthcare instead of going after the big fish (Congress)? Could an argument be made that it’s a more effective strategy to build consensus among patients who, indirectly, can then place pressure on their respective lawmakers to take action? Is it more effective to attack and leverage the power of the voter vs. swaying the whims of Congress? Perhaps, however it should be noted that grass roots efforts take an enormous amount of time to organize and execute, and the issue of accurate patient ID in healthcare simply can’t afford to wait any longer. 

So, we wait. Cautiously optimistic that when framed in the larger context of tangential initiatives failing in the absence of accurate patient ID, 2017 could indeed be the year that Congress takes a step forward in solving the issue. Heaven only knows if they will act, but a step forward is surely more powerful than 18 steps in place.

 

 

patient ID in healthcare

Our Top Posts on Patient ID in 2016

patient ID in healthcare

A look back at our most trafficked blog posts of 2016 and a few words on the state of patient ID in healthcare. (Photo courtesy of pixabay.com: http://bit.ly/2iUh8G9)

We work hard throughout the year to help our community stay informed of the latest news and information on the state of patient identification in healthcare. Our perspective is that the future of patient ID is the patient photo, and with good reason. The ECRI recently recommended that healthcare organizations use more standard means of patient identification, which should include patient photos with their electronic health records (EHR). In addition, many prominent healthcare providers have already implemented patient photo capture initiatives, pointing out that capturing a photo increases patient safety and helps augment effective patient provider communication.

Understanding that accurate patient ID in healthcare affects so many more downstream activities and is widely considered to be the “big bang” of effective and safe patient care, the urgency for hospitals and healthcare organizations to adopt more secure patient identification technology has never been stronger.

Healthcare providers should take note however that not all biometric patient identification solutions are equipped to address the challenges and complexities of ensuring ID accuracy across the entire care continuum which now includes a multitude of new touchpoints such as connected health devices, patient portals, telemedicine, home health, and more. Investing in a patient identification solution that simply provides the ability to accurately identify an individual when they are physically present at a medical facility is now considered short-sighted. Healthcare providers should now consider adopting patient ID technology that is easily scalable, and has the flexibility to capture and store a patient’s photo for accurate identification during any encounter along the care continuum.

In 2016, we wrote extensively about the impact of accurate identification on patient safety including several posts that extrapolate on the imperatives of capturing photos as part of the ID process. We also covered how technology has changed healthcare provider patient ID protocols, the growth and impact on patient ID of iris recognition on smart devices, the characteristics and limitations of patient ID biometric hardware, and much more.

After crunching the numbers, what were our most popular blog posts for 2016? Here is the list:

  1. Identify Unconscious, Unknown Patients with Biometric Identification Technology – Written in May, 2015 this entry was our most trafficked post in 2016. Understanding how biometric technology works in real-life scenarios can help shed light on its true ability to identify unconscious patients as quickly as possible. 
  2. The Difference Between 1:N, 1:1, and 1:Few and Why it Matters in Patient ID – Did you know that there are different biometric matching types depending on the type of hardware modality you deploy for patient ID in healthcare? Written in 2015, this post examines three biometric matching types – one-to-many, one-to-one, and one-to-few – providing a side to side comparison of each matching type capabilities and limitations and providing a recommendation of the only matching type that can truly prevent duplicates and protect patient medical identities.
  3. Removing the word “scan” from iris recognition healthcare biometrics – Our extensive experience deploying iris recognition biometrics around the world helped us to understand and advocate that the word “scan” be removed from any discussion of this technology. Learn more about our viewpoint in this post from 2015.
  4. In Your Face: Future of Federated Patient ID – As we mentioned earlier in this post, the future of patient ID in healthcare is the distinct ability for a provider to capture and store a patient’s photo that can be used for accurate identification at any point along the care continuum. This post, and a subsequent follow up article by our friends at HealthStandards effectively illustrates not only the importance of capturing a patient’s photo at registration but how that photo can be used with facial recognition biometrics for accurate identification no matter where a patient seeks care or data access.
  5. Why telemedicine needs accurate patient ID – Following in the footsteps of our assertion that modern patient identification strategies should be holistic and enable the ability to accurately ID patients at any point along the care continuum, this post covers why we feel accurate patient ID is just as important for connected health and telemedicine as it is for in-person visits.

2016 is a wrap. We observed a few positive advancements to improve patient identification in healthcare, but overall we remain concerned that the topic is often skirted in favor of bolder, more splashy initiatives (e.g. – MACRA, Blockchain, interoperability) which always seem to garner more attention. No doubt that these are important initiatives in the healthcare industry but as we have said many times before — accurate patient identification in healthcare arguably should have been the first problem solved before we tackled these other projects. However, factors at play make it perhaps one of the most difficult and complex healthcare issues to solve from a logistical, political, economical, privacy, and health data exchange perspective.

What did you feel was the most important patient identification advancement (or regression) during 2016? Please leave us a comment!

 

RightPatient expands the use of photo biometrics to Ireland's healthcare providers

Expanding Biometric Patient Identification to Raise Patient Safety Levels in Ireland

new partnership brings accurate patient identification technology to Ireland's healthcare providers

Our new partnership with The Lava Group will help to improve accurate patient identification for healthcare providers in Ireland.

The following post was submitted by Michael Trader, President and Co-Founder of RightPatient®

Excited to announce that RightPatient® has partnered with The Lava Group to expand the use of photo biometrics for accurate patient identification to healthcare providers in Ireland! The goal is to expand use of our patient identification platform to Ireland’s healthcare providers who seek to implement technology that increases patient safety, prevents medical identity theft, and eliminates duplicate medical records.

The Lava Group are experts in providing innovative solutions for the criminal justice and connected health markets with 20 years of experience in some of the most complex and demanding security environments across Europe. They have a long and successful track record in biometric system integration and are well positioned to introduce photo biometrics to ensure accurate patient identification across Ireland.

Accurate patient identification across the care continuum is a persistent global challenge as healthcare organizations continue to struggle with providing an accurate, complete view of patient data across multiple, often disparate providers. Our partnership with The Lava Group is an important step in RightPatient’s efforts to solve the global patient identity challenge.

You can read the full news release on our Web site here

rightpatient-intrepid-healthcare-about-current-state-of-patient-identification-in-healthcare-podcastsMichael Trader is President and Co-Founder of RightPatient®. Michael is responsible for overseeing business development and marketing activities, government outreach, and for providing senior leadership on business and policy issues.

rightpatient - unlocking biometric patient identification technology to improve patient safety in healthcare

Patient Identification in Healthcare: Unlocking Technology to Improve Patient Safety

rightpatient - unlocking patient identification technology to improve patient safety

Listen to this brand new podcast from the eHealth Radio network featuring RightPatient President Michael Trader discussing the current state of patient identification in healthcare

In the effort to draw attention to the ongoing problems that patient misidentification in healthcare creates, we were excited at the opportunity to discuss technology options now available for hospitals to increase patient ID accuracy with the eHealth Radio Network. Listen to the brand new podcast and learn:

— The latest news and updates from RightPatient® President Michael Trader
— Why biometric patient ID seamless integration with an EHR system is critical 
— The impact of biometric patient identification solutions on revenue cycle management (RCM)
 Why experience in biometrics and system integration is an important attribute to evaluate when selecting a vendor
— An update on the CHIME/HeroX national patient ID challenge

Take a moment and listen in to this podcast for more information on how to solve the vexing problem of achieving 100% accurate patient ID in healthcare. Thank you to Eric Michaels and the eHealth Radio team for the opportunity!

 

patient identification in healthcare

Is Petitioning Congress the Answer to Achieving Accurate Patient ID?

patient identification in healthcare

AHIMA’s efforts to petition Congress to life the federal moratorium on funding research on developing a national patient identifier may not do much to adequately solve the problem.

Hat tip for the recent efforts by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) to launch a petition drive that will move Congress to lift the federal legislative ban that has prohibited the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from participating in efforts to find a patient identification solution. It’s a noble effort and adds fuel to the hot fire burning in the industry to solve the persistent and dangerous problem of achieving accurate patient identification in healthcare. We understand that the effort to improve patient identification in healthcare has many downstream benefits to the entire industry including (but not limited to):

— Revenue cycle management
— Patient safety
— Health information exchange
— Population health

The fact that organizations with the clout of AHIMA and CHIME have contributed their powerful voices to the battle of improving patient ID in healthcare is advantageous to the end goal of finding a universal solution that can be adopted collectively throughout the industry. AHIMA and CHIME’s efforts are working to garner more attention to the persistent patient matching problem in healthcare and sparking more discussions about how to solve the problem. Often relegated as a back seat initiative in favor of other healthcare technology initiatives (e.g. – ICD-10, EHR implementation, interoperability), we have always believed that improving patient identification in healthcare should be higher on the priority list.   

AHIMA’s initiative has merit, but is advocating the use of a credential predicated on the concept of presenting something you have or know the answer to solving the patient identification problem in healthcare? One of the reasons that the healthcare industry has struggled with accurate patient identification is that legacy methods of identifying patients have proven to be easy targets to exploit. Human identification generally falls into three distinct categories:

  • “What you know” – address, phone number, date of birth
  • “What you have” – insurance card, driver’s license, passport, government issued identity
  • “Who you are” – biometrics

Traditional identification methods generally rely on asking a patient what they know or what they have but we already know that these are frequently abused and easy sources to commit fraud. Just look at the continued rise in cases of medical identity theft at the point of service – an estimated 2.3 million Americans or close family members had their identities stolen during or before 2014, and a large number of these cases involve family members stealing or sharing medical insurance credentials.

In geographic locations throughout the country where a large percentage of the patient demographic may share similar names, providing a false name or multiple variations of a name at the point of service in order to defraud the system is common. An example widely used throughout the industry to illustrate this is the Harris County Hospital District in Houston where among 3.5 million patients, there are nearly 70,000 instances where two or more patients shared the same last name, first name and date of birth. Among these were 2,488 different patients named Maria Garcia and 231 of those shared the same birth date.

In geographic locations throughout the country where a large percentage of the patient demographic may share similar names, providing a false name or multiple variations of a name at the point of service in order to defraud the system is common. An example widely used throughout the industry to illustrate this is the Harris County Hospital District in Houston where among 3.5 million patients, are were nearly 70,000 instances where two or more patients shared the same last name, first name and date of birth. Among these were 2,488 different patients named Maria Garcia and 231 of those shared the same birth date.

Pushing Congress to lift the federal moratorium on funding research on developing a national patient identifier may lead to a solution that requires patients who opt-in to bring this credential with them when seeking medical treatment. In the absence of incorporating an additional identification credential that relies on “who you are,” simply creating another individual authentication credential that relies on “what you know” or “what you have” leads us down the same path of abuse and fraud. After all, in theory the national patient identifier would be similar to a social security number or other credential that is subject to being stolen, shared, or swapped just like current methods of identification. Do we really want to allow this to happen? Seems as if this solution would be the equivalent or rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. 

Moving forward, the smarter way to solve the identification crisis in healthcare is to adopt technology that identifies patients by who they are, or some sort of a combination of what you have or what you know with who you are. For example, the use of biometrics for patient identification – already a proven technology that patients accept and significantly reduces duplicate medical records, overlays, medical identity theft, and fraud – would be a more sensible way to identify patients to alleviate the problems caused by misidentification. 

Lobbying Congress to lift the moratorium on funding research to develop a national patient identifier won’t solve the patient ID problem in healthcare unless the industry realizes that it must move away from antiquated identification methods that rely on what you have and/or what you know and instead shift to identifying patients by who they are. Unless this is part of the equation, healthcare will continue to spin it’s wheels in the effort to solve the vexing problem of how to achieve 100% accurate patient identification.

biometrics for patient identification and infection control and hygiene in healthcare

Patient Hand Hygiene Report Casts Shadow on Contact Dependent Biometric Patient Identification

biometrics for patient identification and infection control and hygiene in healthcare

A recent NBC news article reported that patients carry superbugs on their hands raising concerns about whether contact dependent biometric patient identificaiton solutions support hospital infection control.

Patient Hands May Pose Greatest Threat to Hospital Acquired Infections

Is the heightened awareness on ensuring that doctors, nurses, and other clinical staff wash their hands as part of strict hospital infection control protocols missing an important element? According to a new research report published by NBC News, hospitals would be well served to address another important demographic inside a facility that could perhaps pose an even greater threat to patient safety: patients themselves.

Researchers at the University of Michigan released details of a report that found “nearly a quarter of patients they tested had some sort of drug-resistant germ on their hands when they were discharged from the hospital…” The results support the theory that many healthcare experts have long asserted – patients are a major threat to spreading the germs of superbug infections. Researchers tested for a number of bugs, and reported:

“We swabbed the palm, fingers, around nails of patients’ hands. The tests were done when patients were admitted, two weeks later, and then once a month for the next six months.” (Source: http://nbcnews.to/1Xv5Rck)

The report goes on to say that patients frequently bring multi-drug-resistant organisms on their hands to a hospital environment and drew the conclusion that this increases the probability that these organisms are likely to be transmitted to other patients and healthcare workers. A concluding thought of the report was:

“Despite concerns raised by some recent studies, patient hand-washing is not a routine practice in hospitals to date.” (Source: http://nbcnews.to/1Xv5Rck)

Patient Hand Hygiene Raises Concerns About Contact Dependent  Biometric Patient Identification Solutions

As more hospitals investigate the use of biometrics for patient identification, they quickly discover that hardware options available include contact-dependent devices (fingerprint, palm vein) and non-contact devices (iris and facial recognition). Is it a healthcare organization’s responsibility to evaluate the hygiene risks of asking patients to physically touch a biometric device for identification? Do hospitals have an obligation to weigh the risks of hospital-acquired infections that could materialize from using contact-dependent biometrics for patient identification?

The NBC News report certainly calls into question the hygiene risks of deploying any type of technology solution that requires physical contact with a patient and could lead to the spread of germs and disease. Our hope is that hospitals assessing the use of biometrics for patient identification will take this into account and understand the risks involved when using contact-dependent devices and the responsibility to sterilize the device after each use if the decision is made to deploy this type of hardware.

There are many factors to consider when evaluating the use of biometrics for patient identification in healthcare. As we learned from the NBC News report, supporting hospital infection control to prevent the spread of germs and disease by using contactless biometric patient identification is important to consider.

Curious to know more about how to assess the differences in patient identification technology? Download our eBook for more details. 

blab session discusses the current state of patient identification in healthcare

IntrepidNow Radio Discusses Current State of Patient Identification in Healthcare

blab session discusses the current state of patient identification in healthcare

Joe Lavelle from IntrepidNow Healthcare Radio interviewed us during a blab session today to talk about the current state of patient identification in healthcare.

Delighted at the opportunity to discuss the current state of patient identification in healthcare with Joe Lavelle (@Resultant) from IntrepidNow Radio and Jared Johnson (@jaredpiano) today via blab. Joe and I had a lengthy discussion about patient ID in healthcare at this year’s HIMSS16 trade show and Joe was gracious enough to follow up our conversation with a formal blab session addressing the topic. Here is a brief summary of what we discussed today:

  1. How does RightPatient® serve its customers?
  2. Clearing up some of the common misunderstandings about the use of biometrics for patient identification in healthcare.
  3. What is the current state of the patient identification market? What are the leading technologies? What are the key issues? How are customers deploying patient ID solutions?
  4. Are their privacy issues related to implementation of patient identification solutions?
  5. A recent guest on my show, a telemedicine company CEO, told Joe that his largest competition is the status quo. Is that also true for RightPatient®?
  6. Information on CHIME’s National Patient ID Challenge launched in January.
  7. What can we expect from RightPatient® in 2016?

Grateful for the chance to talk about this critical issue in healthcare and offer insight on solutions and initiatives underway. It was an excellent discussion and we were able to touch on a number of issues affected by inaccurate patient identification including: medical identity theft/healthcare fraud, duplicate medical records/overlays, identifying patients at new touchpoints along the care continuum, the advantages of using photo biometrics for patient ID, the culture of patient ID, patient privacy, and more!

Here is the blab session in its entirety: 

Thank you to Joe Lavelle and Jared Johnson for their time today! Stay tuned to the “Resources” section of our Web site for future podcasts, blab sessions, and video interviews. 

 

review of biometric patient identification educational session at 2016 HIMSS conference

Takeaways on Biometric Patient ID from HIMSS 2016 Conference

review of biometric patient identification educational session at 2016 HIMSS conference

Several educational sessions at the 2016 HIMSS conference were dedicated to patient ID in healthcare.

Like most who attended last week’s annual HIMSS conference in Las Vegas, I was a bit overwhelmed at the amount of information, activities, and traffic swirling around the Exhibit Halls and lecture rooms. It’s difficult to not get swallowed up among 40,000+ attendees and even more hard to block out the flashing lights and unbelievably cool technology on display in order to focus on what matters most, but I had a set agenda to follow and stuck to my plan. This was the third HIMSS conference I have attended and I continue to be amazed at the outstanding job that HIMSS staff does to pull off this event each year, which only seems to keep growing in size, scope, and complexity. Hat tip to HIMSS staff who work tirelessly on making this event successful!

Buried among the central themes of advancing interoperability, cybersecurity, population health, consumer and patient engagement, and connected health, there were a handful of educational sessions dedicated to patient identification in healthcare including a presentation by Dr. Raymond Aller, a Clinical Professor at the University of California entitled: “Patient Identification: Biometric or Botched?”

This was the only educational session at the conference that I could see which was 100% dedicated to the use of biometrics for patient ID in healthcare and it was well attended – I counted approximately 75 people who showed up for the session. 

Dr. Aller presented what I felt was a fair, unbiased analysis of the patient identification landscape in healthcare and a thorough analysis (including strengths, weaknesses, and deployment examples) of biometric patient identification modalities available to hospitals and health organizations. Here is a brief overview of Dr. Aller’s central themes, and what he presented:

  1.  Text based patient identification is simply no longer an efficient or safe way to ID patients: Dr. Aller began his presentation by listing the consequences of failing to properly identify a patient including the patient safety, legal, and liability issues and public relations nightmare misidentification can create. He then demonstrated the drawbacks and limitations of text based patient ID calling it “obsolete” and pointing out that in 2016, hospitals and healthcare organizations can no longer afford the risks associated with this form of identification. He even went so far as to question the viability of continuing to use a master patient index (MPI) as a patient data repository, calling it a “dangerous” and “obsolete” concept.
  2. Healthcare fraud and medical identity theft: Dr. Aller then explained the potentially catastrophic consequences of healthcare fraud, medical identity theft, and duplicate medical records from misidentifying a patient and the additional problems and risks that data merges pose stressing that too often, hospitals spend hundreds of thousands (sometimes millions) of dollars a year cleaning data and merging records without ever having the foresight to implement technology that will sustain patient data integrity in the future. Bottom line? Relying on names and dates of birth (“what you know”) and ID cards (“what you have’) to identify patients is simply no longer safe or sufficient. The patient identification industry is evolving to identify patients by “who they are.”
  3.  Biometric patient identification technology overview: The last third of Dr. Aller’s presentation centered on an overview of biometric patient identification technologies available including a detailed description of fingerprint, palm vein, and iris recognition (also referred to as “photo biometrics”). Although Dr. Aller left out some key points about these biometric patient identification modality options (for example, he did not mention the back end biometric matching technology behind each of these modalities and why this is important to understand), his review was fair and provided a relatively unbiased look at the strengths and limitations of using biometrics for patient identification. One interesting point that Dr. Aller made was the fact that in a clinical setting, the use of fingerprint and palm vein biometrics for patient identification creates questions about hygiene and supporting hospital infection control policies because a patient must physcially touch a device for identification – an attribute that is not a factor with iris recognition since it is contactless to the patient. 
  4. Conclusion: Dr. Aller concluded his presentation by further extolling on the strengths of biometrics for patient identification but cautioned the audience that biometrics are by no means a panacea due to select psychological, sociological, and physiological limitations. However, Dr. Aller did point out that his research indicated that when presented with the option of using biometrics to protect their medical identities and keep them safe throughout the care continuum, over 99% of patients opt-in to using the technology.
  5. Question and Answer session: Selected attendees asked some very interesting questions during the Q&A session including one woman from a neonatal hospital who lamented that it is very difficult to identify newborns with biometrics since neither palm vein or fingerprint biometrics can be used on children (photo biometrics can be used on any child 10 months or older). Another person asked what biometric technology could be used to verify patient identities over the phone when they call in requesting access to protected health information (PHI).

Several other educational sessions during HIMSS were centered on patient identification in healthcare with several common themes emerging:

  1. The healthcare industry is slowly shifting from credential based to identity centric patient ID.
  2. A central reason that more hospitals aren’t researching how to more effectively identify patients are competing priorities. Healthcare simply has to drop the “wait and see” attitude to more effective patient identification. 
  3. 198,000 deaths annually can be contributed to patient misidentification.
  4. Patient misidentification resulted in $77 billion Medicare and Medicaid fraud and improper payments.

If I had a crystal ball, I’d venture to say that patient identification will continue to be a hot-button topic in healthcare during 2016 and beyond, largely because so many other elements of care along the continuum are contingent upon it and so many back-end processes and functions (e.g. – revenue cycle management) depend on getting it right. 

What lessons did you take away from any of the HIMSS 2016 educational sessions dedicated to patient ID in healthcare?

accurate patient matching in healthcare through reconciling duplicate medical records

AHIMA Survey on Patient Matching Illustrates HIM Burdens, Frustrations

accurate patient matching in healthcare through reconciling duplicate medical records

A recent survey of HIM professionals by AHIMA illustrates the problems that duplicate medical records have on accurate patient matching in healthcare. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons: http://bit.ly/2hVSvMc)

The following post was submitted by Brad Marshall, Enterprise Development Consultant with RightPatient®

AHIMA Sheds Light on Patient Matching Problems in Healthcare

The American Health Information Management Society (AHIMA) released details of a survey yesterday that revealed over half of Health Information Management (HIM) professionals still spend a significant amount of time reconciling duplicate medical records at their respective healthcare facilities. The survey went on to reveal some very interesting statistics on patient matching and linking patient records, illustrating the burden that duplicate medical records have not only on HIM staff, but the dangers care providers face who increasingly rely on access to accurate, holistic patient data to provide safe, quality care. One particular stat that jumped out at us was:

“…less than half (47 percent) of respondents state they have a quality assurance step in their registration or post registration process, and face a lack of resources to adequately correct duplicates.”

This is an area of particular concern due to the fact that our research has shown that many healthcare facilities spend tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars per year reconciling duplicate medical records but very few have technology in place to prevent duplicates in the future. It’s encouraging that accurate patient matching in healthcare seems to finally be getting the attention it deserves, due to the digitization of the industry, the shift change from fee-for-service to a value based payment system and a burgeoning healthcare ecosystem laser focused on improving both individual outcomes and population health. AHIMA’s survey supports this assertion by stating:

“Accurate patient matching “underpins and enables the success of all strategic initiatives in healthcare…”

Equally concerning is the fact that less than half of HIM professionals surveyed have any type of patient registration quality assurance policy in place and only slightly over half of survey respondents could accurately say what their duplicate medical rate actually is. Not to mention the fact that HIM professionals spend entirely too much of their time reconciling duplicate medical records, with 73% reporting that they work duplicates “at a minimum of weekly.” 

As more healthcare organizations and facilities begin to understand that accurate patient matching has a major impact on other downstream activities, it is encouraging that the issue is finally getting the attention it deserves helped in part by the efforts of AHIMA, and CHIME’s national patient identification challenge which is scheduled to kick off this month.  It’s clear that the healthcare industry is slowly coming to the realization that many new initiatives borne from the HiTech Act and Meaningful Use (e.g. – population health, ACOs, health information exchanges, interoperability) don’t really have any hope to succeed in the absence of accurate patient identification. 

Duplicate Reconciliation Unnecessary Burden on HIM?

Early last year, we wrote a blog post on How Accurate Patient Identification Impacts Health Information Management (HIM) which highlights the exorbitant amount of time HIM spends reconciling duplicates and the opportunity cost this brings. For example, time spent on duplicate clean up and reconciliation could instead be allocated to coding for reimbursement and preparing, indexing, and imaging all paper medical records – a critical component in the effort to capture and transfer as much health data as possible to a patient’s EHR.

The fact of the matter is that as health data integrity stewards and medical record gatekeepers, HIM professionals are better served spending their time ensuring proper and accurate reimbursement and medical record accuracy then reconciling duplicates which should have never been created in the first place. HIM staff perform one of if not the most critical functions in healthcare by ensuring health data integrity, especially in light of the increasing reliance of often disparate healthcare providers need to access a complete medical record that includes as much information as possible.

As we noted in the post last January:

“…many hospitals have expanded responsibilities vis-à-vis Meaningful Use, EHR implementation, and meeting Affordable Care Act requirements, and it has become disadvantageous to continue devoting any time at all to duplicate medical record and overlay reconciliation. Biometric patient identification solutions open the door to re-allocation of HIM FTEs to more critical functions such as coding, reimbursement, and reporting. Simply put, implementing biometrics during patient registration is opening the door for HIM departments across the industry to provide a larger and more productive support role to meet the shifting sands of reimbursement and address the need to move towards quality vs. quantity of care.”

Conclusion

We could not have summed up the issue of duplicate medical record creation and reconciliation and inaccurate patient matching in healthcare more succinctly than this quote from AHIMA in the survey summary:

“Reliable and accurate calculation of the duplicate rate is foundational to developing trusted data, reducing potential patient safety risks and measuring return on investments for strategic healthcare initiatives.” 

Trusted data. Isn’t this the backbone of the new healthcare paradigm? Certainly we can’t expect to achieve many of the purported advances in healthcare in the absence of clean, accurate health data. It’s time to eliminate duplicate medical records forever, and establish cohesive, quality assured patient matching in healthcare.

What are your biggest takeaways from the AHIMA report on accurate patient matching in healthcare?

Brad Marshall works for RightPatient - the industry's best biometric patient identification solution.Brad Marshall is an Enterprise Development Consultant with RightPatient®. With several years of experience implementing both large and small scale biometric patient identification projects in healthcare, Brad works closely with key hospital executives and front line staff to ensure project success.